Imagine America had as its president a man manifestly unfit by character and temperament to hold such an important public trust and exercise the important constitutional powers of the office. The president’s conduct in office had demonstrated him to be racist, mercurial, intransigent, personally crude, obsessed with his own public image and perceptions of his authority and success, and prone to intemperate public tirades, heaping abuse upon political enemies, the press, and all who opposed him.
As president, he expressed sympathy for – at times even seemed to side with – the nation’s avowed enemies: persons and forces that until very recently had been the nation’s overt military adversaries and who still sought to undermine America’s political system. He collaborated openly with such persons. He offered excuses for vicious racists – and uttered some distressingly racist remarks himself – as he failed to protect a large swath of the American population from racial violence, intimidation and oppression at the hands of private parties. He blamed the victims, as much as the perpetrators – for supposedly having pressed too far and thereby provoked the retaliation that fell on their heads.
... He arguably abused the power to fire subordinates, removing or seeking to remove from office those who would not pliantly carry out his wishes to defy or disregard the law. He valued personal loyalty to him above all else and seemed indifferent to competent service to the nation. As shocking as it might sound, many judged the president unfit to issue direct commands to the military – impulsive, capricious, erratic and thus potentially dangerous.
He was an intemperate bully. He was politically artless and witless. But he was a snazzy dresser, or so he fashioned himself.A couple of days ago was the 150th anniversary of the impeachment of Andrew Johnson and the above excerpt was describing him (just in case you thought it might have been describing a different president).
The most interesting thing about the article to me is that, according to constitutional scholars, the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" need not be linked to a specific crime but can instead include the president's overall character and conduct. That was the first I had heard that.
The article also served to remind me that bad presidents (and other politicians and bureaucrats) have not been vanishingly rare, but simply do come to power from time-to-time. Yet another reason that checks and balances are so important.