Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, via Washington Monthly, gives the president a statutory thumbs-up on the platinum coin option, explaining that it "entails just reading the plain language that Congress used." Adds Tribe, "It’s also quite clear that the minting of such a coin couldn’t be challenged; I don’t see who would have standing."
But here's the kicker, or rather the boomerang: "Bottom line: This is a situation," continues Tribe, "where the political and economic considerations, not the legal considerations, have to drive the decision-making."
Precisely. And a variation of that bottom line--a situation where political considerations, not economic and legal considerations, drive the decision-making--would unquestionably, I think, ensnare the president in impeachment. And therein lies the "challenge."
So the president has the legal authority to mint a platinum coin. So what? Presidents have the authority to get blowjobs in the White House, too. But that didn't stop the GOP House under Bill Clinton from impeaching him. And if we learned any constitutional truism from Clinton's experience, it was that any House can impeach any president for any damn reason it wants--and that includes purely political ones.
Now of course one could argue that President Obama should valiantly risk impeachment by minting such a coin and thereby save the nation from economic catastrophe--that in one quick press he could avert a wickedly grueling affair. Yet in arguing that case, one would almost certainly be required to also accept that Obama would merely be trading one national nightmare for another--a one- or two-year impeachment process, which would just as unambiguously demonstrate to the world and its markets that the United States has become an utterly ungovernable, hopelessly dysfunctional country.