Saturday, March 11, 2006
Restraining Presidential powerThe editorial board at the Toledo Blade clearly doesn't approve of the Republican Congress' collaboration with Bush on the warrantless NSA spying program. From In the dark on spying 03/11/06:
Senate Republicans don't know the precise details of President Bush's domestic eavesdropping operation, but - with heads firmly implanted where the sun doesn't shine - they want to keep everyone else in the dark, too.Their heads "firmly implanted where the sun doesnt' shine"? When you've got straight-laced metropolitan dailies opening their editiorials like that, it's a sign of something. I'm not quite sure what.
The President, aided and abetted by his super-secret vice president, clearly doesn't want the American people to know the extent to which they are listening to telephone calls and reading e-mail. Perhaps the eavesdropping is aimed strictly at terrorist suspects, but this unconstitutionally intrusive operation sets a dangerous precedent.This "what if Hillary were doing it" argument is understandable. But it fails to fully account for the authoritarian nature of today's Republican Party. The answer is: (1) they don't expect the Democrats ever to take the White House again, even if they win the election as in 2000; and, (2) the Democrats don't claim unlimited authority for the President, only the Republicans do.
In other words, the Democratic Party believes as virtually everyone has in American history, that the President is required to abide by the law and the Consitution. But the Republicans' unilateral Executive theory says that the President can disregard any law or Constitutional provision he chooses, as long as he on his own discretion, without authorization from Congress or review by the courts, determines that his illegal acts are necessary for "national security".
With the Republicans now in power, Bush breaks the law and the Republican Congress supports and defends him in doing so, even passing cosmetic legislation (like Maverick McCain's anti-torture law) to help deflect public concern over the illegal acts.
But if a Democratic President were in power, the Reps would have no problem passing laws and using the courts to enforce them against the Democratic President. And, if the Democratic President intended to maintain the rule of law which the unilateral Executive theory of Presidential power rejects, they would have to work within that framework. That's what happened during Clinton's Presidency, although the Reps hadn't openly embraced the unilateral Executive claims for Republican Presidents at that time.
And even before the ascension of Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court, the Republican-dominated Court was willing to indulge in crass partisanship on behalf of their Party, most blatantly in Bush v. Gore in the 2000 election.
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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