Partisan Sarbanes Will Not Seek Reelection

Paul Sarbanes, five term Democratic Senator from Maryland announced yesterday that he will not seek reelection to a sixth term. Sarbanes has the record as being the longest serving US Senator in Maryland history. Many, including the Big Dog, have felt that Sarbanes should have been gone long ago. Sarbanes is a Democrat who supports social issues and courts the entitlement crowd. He keeps a low profile except during election season where he is seen all over the air waves.

His announcement sparked a flurry of speculation as to what people would seek his seat. Among the potential candidates are Kweisi Mfume and Martin O’Malley, though O’malley has his eyes on the Governor’s Mansion and denies he will run. Among the accolades paid to Sarbanes was this by US Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)

Cummings said he told the senator he was a workhorse, not a showhorse, and said Sarbanes had the respect of Democrats and Republicans in Congress because of his integrity.

Integrity? This is a quality in which one takes the same principled stance regardless of the personal implications. Sarbanes fell woefully short of that during the impeachment hearings of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

The Articles of Impeachment for each President focused on obstruction of justice. These show where Sarbanes sided with respect to Nixon:

It was during his service in the House, in August 1974, that Sarbanes was selected by his Democratic colleagues on the House Watergate Committee to introduce the first Article of Impeachment, for obstruction of justice, against President Richard Nixon. (Ethics in Government)

Sarbanes was chief sponsor of the Watergate cover-up impeachment article approved 27-11. (USA Today)

Now this is vastly different from the Sarbanes who spoke against impeachment for Bill Clinton. Remember, the articles were for the same offense. Sarbanes said: (Full Text)

It is a serious matter for the Congress to remove a President who has been elected in a democratic process for a term of four years, raising fundamental concerns about the separation of powers.

He goes on to note that if the removal power is not limited, as it clearly is, impeachment could be converted into a parliamentary vote of no confidence which, whatever its merits, is not our constitutional system. The separation of powers embraced in our Constitution and the fixed term of the President have been credited by many observers with providing stability to our political system.

It is important therefore to recognize that in considering the matter before us we do so in the context of a Presidential election, wherein the people have chosen the single leader of the executive branch of our Government–the President.

President Clinton has engaged in disgraceful and reprehensible conduct which has severely sullied and demeaned his tenure as President. Because of his shameful and reckless behavior he has brought dishonor upon himself, deeply hurt his family, and grievously diminished his reputation and standing now, and in history.

But the diminishing of Bill Clinton must not lead us to diminish the Presidency for his successors as our Nation moves into the new millennium. There is a danger to the Nation in deposing a political leader chosen directly by the people and we must be wary of the instability it would bring to our political system.

In the report of the staff of the impeachment inquiry in 1974 on the constitutional grounds for Presidential impeachment, the conclusion states:

Not all presidential misconduct is sufficient to constitute grounds for impeachment. There is a further requirement–substantiality. In deciding whether this further requirement has been met, the facts must be considered as a whole in the context of the office, not in terms of separate or isolated events. Because impeachment of a President is a grave step for the nation, it is to be predicated only upon conduct seriously incompatible with either the constitutional form and principles of our government or the proper performance of constitutional duties of the presidential office.

I do not believe the conduct examined here meets this test.

I will vote against removing the President.

Why is it that when it was Nixon, a republican, the crime of obstruction of justice warranted removal of the President from office despite the fact that the people had elected him (by a large margin) to lead the country but when it is a democratic President, the will of the people can not be over looked?

Sarbanes played partisan politics and voted exactly opposite given very similar sets of circumstances. This is not the definition of integrity. If Rep. Cummings thinks it is, the voters should reexamine his tenure in office.

I for one am glad Sarbanes is not running again. He would easily win reelection because of the large pockets of democrats in three subdivisions of the state. The other twenty subdivisions can not block these democraticly dense areas. Unfortunately, another democrat will probably win the seat. In the state of Maryland, ability is second to party affiliation.

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