President Joe Biden, the oldest man ever elected to the most powerful office in the world, is not merely doddering in a palpable senility, flailing haplessly before the cameras with a wizened countenance that is a microcosm for American decline.
He has not merely already exposed himself, both physically and mentally, as wholly unfit for the formidable task required of an American president in 2021: that of a Lincoln-esque statesman who is able to tame a nation’s simmering angst, salve a fractious republic’s gaping wounds and reorient ourselves toward the pursuit of a coherent common good.
Biden is, quite simply, a man unsuited to meet the challenges of the present moment. He is out of his league and, one hopes sooner rather than later, will find himself out of political time.
Indeed, there is a compelling case that that time is right now. The way that Biden has handled America’s (admittedly long-overdue) withdrawal from the backwater of Afghanistan has been so inexplicably botched, so patently dripping with gross malfeasance, and so clearly subversive of his solemn constitutional oath and his foremost commander-in-chief prerogative that the proper short-term remedy is obvious: impeachment.
The Constitution’s presidential impeachment standard, as consumers of our politics know all too well from former President Donald Trump’s own recent trials and tribulations, is that of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Modern impeachments typically focus on the catch-all “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” provision, and so too does the case for Biden’s own Afghan debacle-induced impeachment rest on that criterion.
Some may read “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” and facilely conclude that, as with former President Bill Clinton perjuring himself in the late 1990s, such an actual black-letter criminal offense is required for successful prosecution of a presidential impeachment. But that reading, while reasonable at first blush, is wrong. It ignores the centuries-old history of the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” as a legal term of art at common law.
The proper explication was presented by Alexander Hamilton in “The Federalist No. 65”: “The subjects of (the impeachment trial’s) jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”
Any Democrat who does not have a shockingly selective and short-term memory ought to understand this. Democrats’ first attempted impeachment of Trump, commenced in 2019 due to a thoroughly unmemorable and unremarkable (if imperfect) phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that amounted to a five-page printed transcript, was clearly underpinned by nothing whatsoever if not an alleged and amorphous “violation of some public trust.”
Indeed, with this ham-fisted foreign policy quid pro quo phone call as recent impeachment precedent, Biden’s recently unearthed July phone call with former Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani is arguably alone sufficient to trigger impeachment proceedings.
As Reuters reported earlier this week, Biden instructed Ghani to outright lie, if need be, about the failed U.S.-led effort to contain the Taliban.
“I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things aren’t going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,” Biden said. “And there’s a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”
In what sane world is Biden’s outrageous phone call to Ghani less damning than Trump’s Ukraine phone call to Zelensky, in which the former president temporarily delayed the release of eventually-disbursed foreign aid as part of a sloppily attempted quid pro quo?
But Biden has, of course, disgraced himself and sullied America’s reputation in myriad ways beyond his ill-fated phone call to Ghani, which transpired mere weeks before Kabul’s fall. He and his administration have spoken of the Taliban, an unreconstructed sharia supremacist jihadi outfit, as an ostensibly legitimate geopolitical actor worthy of sharing sensitive information.
That would be the same Taliban that turned a blind eye to an ISIS-K suicide bomber who killed 13 U.S. servicemen and maimed dozens of others outside the Kabul airport, and which has of late been going door to door executing political opponents it previously vowed to spare.
And that would be the same Taliban that has now freed thousands of highly dangerous jihadi prisoners from abandoned Bagram Air Base and acquired, among other treasures, 73 American military aircraft and nearly 100 American military vehicles. Biden’s incompetence has directly freed terrorists and unequivocally bolstered the weaponry cache of the jihadi group that harbored al-Qaida in the run-up to 9/11.
Most important, Biden has now lied to the American public, tout court, with respect to getting all American civilians out of Afghanistan before the last military plane took off from Kabul.
“We’re gonna stay to get them all out,” Biden told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Aug. 19 about Americans stranded in Kabul, as the U.S. withdrawal chugged along.
That turned out to be untrue: At least 100 to 200 American civilians remain stranded. It is difficult to think of a more egregious violation of a U.S. president’s commander-in-chief constitutional prerogative than to strand U.S. citizens in a hostile, jihadi-overrun foreign country while simultaneously pushing full-steam ahead with evacuating all military personnel from the area.
Such conduct amounts to a complete and utter dereliction of duty. The Constitution’s prescribed remedy for that dereliction is impeachment.
Josh Hammer is opinion editor of Newsweek, a syndicated columnist through Creators, and the co-host of two podcasts: Newsweek’s “The Debate” and the Edmund Burke Foundation’s “NatCon Squad.”