Daniel P. McKim, Springfield
Just when I think all the world has gone crazy, in steps Michael Gerson to reassure me that at least one conservative columnist has the integrity and journalistic moxie to expose corruption, incompetence and naked ambition. Former South Carolina governor and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s betrayal of her country and colleagues to clearly further her own political ambitions has been rightly and articulately called out by Mr. Gerson. Add her to the list of tainted and disgraced officials who come in contact with this corrupt and dishonest president.
What President Trump calls the “deep state” is the institutional base for keeping the functions of government running when politicians come and go in our democracy. These are the people who keep the troops fed, housed and trained. They distribute Social Security checks, weather information and emergency aid. The members of the military and federal workers who make up the bureaucracy also take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution” and “faithfully discharge the duties of the office.”
The citizens of our country rely on the bureaucracy for their well-being. Bureaucrats are the public’s servants, not servants of just one man. So when Army Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman and Fiona Hill and acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. and others keep their oath to be true to the Constitution and the laws of the land, they are not enemies of the state but protectors of us all.
I find it incredible that a president of our country would dismiss William B. Taylor Jr., acting ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, the State Department’s foremost expert on Ukraine, as unelected, career bureaucrats, as if they have no idea what they are talking about, nor have the best interests of the United States in mind.
In the meantime, the president’s private lawyer, one apparently demented Rudolph W. Giuliani, unelected and unendorsed by anyone but President Trump, has apparently been running a sideshow on behalf of Mr. Trump, and not in the interest of the United States.
In deep consternation and dismay,
Pamela Michaels, Hagerstown, Md.
Marc A. Thiessen’s Nov. 14 op-ed, “Incompetence is not an impeachable offense,” made some excellent points, but I differ with his conclusion that incompetence is not an impeachable offense. Impeachable offenses include “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which the Founding Fathers purposely left open-ended, meaning, as Gerald Ford once put it, “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”
The Founders understood that presidents could act in ways that were not criminal but threatened the nation. In the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, Rep. Ben Butler wondered whether if someone other than Abraham Lincoln had been president in 1861 and had refused to use force to end the Confederacy’s rebellion, would Congress and the American people do nothing, therefore allowing the Union to dissolve, because “the president’s inaction was no crime?”
The point being that ignorance, erratic behavior and incompetence may not be illegal, but if “at any given moment in history” and for whatever reason (including political reasons), Congress thinks such behavior fits the definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” then they are impeachable offenses.
Bruce G. Kauffmann, Alexandria
Marc A. Thiessen, in his Nov. 14 op-ed, argued that for a president incompetence is not an impeachable offense. This may be true, but it is a reason to apply the 25th Amendment.
Rolf Tschudin, Kensington
Marc A. Thiessen argued that incompetence is not an impeachable offense.
When the incompetence in question manifests itself in autocratic behavior that threatens to destroy the structural safeguards of our democracy and undermine our national security, it does not matter whether it results from being easily duped by others or from a self-indulgent indifference to the constitutional constraints on the presidency. Such incompetence certainly can and should result in ouster through impeachment.