Saturday, March 25, 2006

Glenn Greenwald on the futility of legislative restraints on Bush

Glenn Greenwald hammers home the point that the conventional wisdom among Congressmen and journalists ignores: the Bush administration is vowing to disregard any new laws Congress passes, even if Bush goes through the charade of signing it into law (accompanied presumably by his unconstitutional signing statements fetish).

Sure, the DOJ claims the President is unrestrained by any check on his authority only in those cases involving protecting the nation - as he interprets it. How many times have he and his officials described any criticism of or disagreement with anything they say as giving "aid and comfort" to the enemy? Note the portentous phrasing; they are describing the constitutional standard for treason. Dissent from the Bush camp equals treason; and the president alone can determine what constitutes a national security issue that then he alone has the power to combat, resorting to any means. The entire democratic ideal of political disagreement and compromise vanishes in the Bush substitute for law.

The Bush administration's arguments for constitutional power are from a different planet, an alternate universe, from the Constitution of the United States. They can't once refer to the Constitution without simply ascribing its purpose as maximizing the president's powers for the purpose of "protecting the country", when neither the Constitution itself nor any random page flipped to from the entirety of the constitutional convention debates and the Federalist Papers could make any plainer that the overwhelming purpose of the Consitution is to prevent the government from accruing too much power. It's a perverse testament to the mass ignorance of the media that it has so often treated this as a close call with reasonable arguments going both ways.

No mere legislation is going to make a dent on the steamroller bearing down on our democracy. Only censure, or withholding executive branch funding, or an impeachment inquiry, can make a difference; and whatever the format, must be backed by a public outcry clear enough to give our administration convictions of a new, more modest ideal of its own power.

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