Charles Krauthammer & lame ducks

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Charles Krauthammer, July 23, 2010:

Beware the Lame Duck

Democrats should pledge now to refrain from approving controversial legislation during the lame-duck session.

How then to prevent a runaway lame-duck Congress? Bring the issue up now — applying the check-and-balance of the people's will before it disappears the morning after Election Day. Every current member should be publicly asked: In the event you lose in November — a remote and deeply deplorable eventuality, but still not inconceivable — do you pledge to adhere to the will of the electorate and, in any lame-duck session of Congress, refuse to approve anything but the most routine legislation required to keep the government functioning?

Charles Krauthammer, November 6, 1998:

Lessons of an election in which a president (facing impeachment!) scores the first off-year gains since 1934.

Lesson 1. The dead can rise, with Republican help. The real story of this election is the resurrection of Bill Clinton. Eight weeks ago, the Democrats were demoralized and frantically running away from the president. On Tuesday, Clinton's comeback lifted many Democratic boats.

Credit for this lies mainly with the House Republicans, who fumbled away one of the easiest open field touchdowns in history. Over Democratic objections, they first released the Clinton grand jury testimony, then forced through an open-ended impeachment inquiry -- in both cases spurning an opportunity for unanimity and magnanimity. They handed the Democrats the "partisanship" charge and the "unfairness" issue. In the end, these not only neutralized but trumped the Clinton scandal.

Having written that Democrats gained seats in the November 1998 elections in large part because the public rejected the GOP's push to impeach Clinton, surely Krauthammer then insisted that the House Republicans not impeach Clinton in a lame-duck session, right? Er … not quite.

Charles Krauthammer, November 27, 1998:

The House should therefore vote on two simple articles of impeachment. … Republicans are running scared on impeachment for fear of the stain it will leave on them. This is the perfect opportunity for the turning of the tables on their opponents. Let these be the articles and let the Democrats vote against them, as they surely will. Up or down, yes or no, nothing less.

And yet now Krauthammer, who cheered on as a lame-duck Republican House of Representatives impeached a Democratic president after an election in which -- according to Krauthammer himself -- the American public rejected the GOP's impeachment efforts, insists that Democrats must pledge not to enact "controversial" legislation in a lame-duck session this fall.

It would be easier to take Krauthammer seriously if he added that he was wrong to push for lame-duck impeachment in 1998.

Charles Krauthammer
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