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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Poor Reflection

The Boston Globe had a recent historical piece regarding the growth of Executive power and the abdication of responsibility by Congress. In the context of yesterday's speech by Al Gore, it is worth a re-read. (Speaking of the Gore speech, Glenn has some thoughts on the speech posted at C&L that are also worth a read.)

And certainly worth a lot of discussion in the week preceding the vote for or against Judge Alito in the Judiciary Committee -- and the question of an Imperial Presidency versus the checks and balances as established by the Founders of this nation.

Steve Clemons has some sharp insights on why the disconnect between Executive Power and Congressional and Judicial oversight have occurred under this particular Preznit's watch. (And I do hope that Steve won't mind my copying an extended excerpt here, because it truly is a spot on point that deserves a lot more attention.)
I do believe that Tom DeLay and his machine took Washingtonian structual corruption to new heights, but the fact is that Bush, Cheney, Rove, Libby, Gonzales, and other close cronies also warped the way the administration itself works. They cut out dissent inside the administration.

One of the most disturbing but rarely acknowledged aspects of the NSA warrantless wiretap scandal is that it was not the FISA court approvals that were the problem for the administration. Bush's problem was holding his own team together on the requests. The Deputy Attorney General thought they were wrong and perhaps illegal. State got cut out of the loop. Some in NSA were outraged. Even John Ashcroft did not want to sign off on the order.

Bush avoided the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court because the Executive Branch was not cohesive on this issue. Checks and balances usually occur between branches of government, with civil society as an added check on the behavior and performance of government. However, the NSA case is one in which checks and balances external and internal to the Executive Branch failed to work -- because of the perversion of the system of law and process that Bush and his team engineered.

We are four and a half years late in rectifying the problem of an out of control presidency. Congress, the media, NGOs, and others engaged in our democratic system must forcefully knock back the expansive powers of a wannabe monarchy.

The White House will not self correct; it's not designed to. But it's absolutely essential that the White House be curtailed.
Yesterday's Gore speech made similar observations, and today I find further analysis along these lines by Josh Marshall at TPM, who takes this analysis to the next level: authoritarianism and incompetence go hand in hand, because there is no check to a President who acts like a King -- the King must check himself, and the odds of that happening under this Preznit are slim and none (emphasis on the none).

Does Congress or the Judiciary have the wherewithall to do the oversight and balancing envisioned by the Founders? Does that depend on how much of a political drag this President has become in advance of the 2006 elections and, if so, will the job get done if and only if polling data supports it? (And can you be a polling data patriot -- or is that just too pathetic?)

Now is the time for true patriots to dig deep and raise their voices against the tyranny of King George. The question is, how many true patriots do we have in Congress and on the judicial bench? This is not a political issue, it is an American issue that crosses political party boundaries. If liberty will not be defended by the people of this nation, then liberty ceases to exist.

Either you are for liberty -- or you are for a King. You choose.

(Photo by Reuters/Corbis via Boston Globe.)