Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The central animating principle of the Constitution is to vest power where it is accountable to the people.

With Bush's approval rating now at an all-time, Nixonian low, and Cheney's at 18%, one of the lowest approval ratings for any politician in the history of ratings, where and how does the breaking point take form, of the White House finally responding to America's ever-growing cry for restoring basic democratic norms of American government, and apologizing for the bizarre Yooian misadventure into the unilateral executive?

The terminology of "unitary executive" to refer to a president with uncheckable powers (except those of the purse, Yoo says) is itself a blatant misrepresentation of constitutional jurisprudential language. The founding fathers used the term "unitary executive" to refer to the idea of a single person at the head of the executive, rather than a voting body - or a privy council, as George Mason called it. The issue of whether to have one person or several at the head of the executive was separate from the issues of what powers the head of the executive should have and what checks on those powers should be distributed to the Congress and the courts. The founding fathers were wary that a tyranny of many would be equally as dangerous as a tyranny of one.

Or even moreso. In fact, a driving motivation for ultimately choosing the unitary executive - a single individual at the head of the executive - is because they thought this would help keep the head of the executive relatively weak, and readily accountable to the legislature and to the people; that the lone individual would not be encouraged and strengthened in executive excesses by the example or support of peers at the head of the executive.

No scholar could claim otherwise without recklessly or willfully distorting the plain and simple facts.

Rejection of an unanswerable, unilateral executive in favor of a mere president, checked by and balanced against the other branches of government, was the central animating inspiration and ultimate goal of the independence from England and the formation of this new nation and its constitution. No idea is more offensive to the idea of America than the idea of an executive having authority to disregard duly passed statutes at his own whim. It is no coincidence that the lion's share of the Declaration of Independence is a recitation of the unaccountable acts of the unitary executive; and that the Article of the Constitution dealing with the legislature comes first. The language could hardly be more plain:

"The Congress shall have Power... To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

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