George W. Bush: Knock Yourself Out genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Knock Yourself Out

I have a new theory on the impact of the George W. Bush presidency. I must also confess that my theory results from my utter amazement and frustration with the latest assertion by the Bush administration. The Washington Post is reporting that the Bush administration intends to argue that a claim of executive privilege will prevent the Justice Department from moving forward with contempt charges resulting from the investigation into the firing of a number of U.S. attorneys. In essence, the Bush administration intends to halt any efforts to bring contempt charges by asserting that executive privilege supersedes the authority of Congress.

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

"A U.S. attorney would not be permitted to bring contempt charges or convene a grand jury in an executive privilege case," said a senior official, who said his remarks reflect a consensus within the administration. "And a U.S. attorney wouldn't be permitted to argue against the reasoned legal opinion that the Justice Department provided. No one should expect that to happen."

Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who has written a book on executive-privilege issues, called the administration's stance "astonishing."
"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell said. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all."

Strange as this may sound, I hope George Bush continues to push the limits of executive authority…I hope he continues to insinuate that his actions in Iraq are consistent with fulfilling god’s promise of freedom for all humans…I hope he continues to portray his actions as infallible…I hope he continues to operate as if the President is above the law.

I say this because I’m convinced that he is sounding the death knell for the evangelical movement. Let me be clear…I am not suggesting that there will be fewer evangelical fanatics who would like to see the United States function as a theocracy based upon the Bible. Fanatics rarely cease being fanatics.

However, I am suggesting that many of those who aligned with evangelicals in the 2000 and 2004 elections…people who shared a belief in god and values…will no longer find a candidate similar to George Bush acceptable…candidates who have a propensity to appear intoxicated with their proximity to divine knowledge and inspiration.

Further, given the fact that the percentage of Americans who report to be nonreligious is slightly over ten percent of the population (estimates suggest more than 30 million), along with the growing push back being exhibited by atheists and agnostics, I expect to see an increase in voters opposed to any further erosion of the separation of church and state…making it harder for candidates to succeed by brandishing their faith as their primary political asset.

David B. Rifkin, who worked in the Justice Department and White House counsel's office under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, praised the position and said it is consistent with the idea of a "unitary executive." In practical terms, he said, "U.S. attorneys are emanations of a president's will." And in constitutional terms, he said, "the president has decided, by virtue of invoking executive privilege, that is the correct policy for the entire executive branch."

But Stanley Brand, who was the Democratic House counsel during the Burford case, said the administration's legal view "turns the constitutional enforcement process on its head. They are saying they will always place a claim of presidential privilege without any judicial determination above a congressional demand for evidence -- without any basis in law." Brand said the position is essentially telling Congress: "Because we control the enforcement process, we are going to thumb our nose at you."

Rozell, the George Mason professor and authority on executive privilege, said the administration's stance "is almost Nixonian in its scope and breadth of interpreting its power. Congress has no recourse at all, in the president's view. . . . It's allowing the executive to define the scope and limits of its own powers."

I also think the American public is much wiser than men like George Bush may assume. Keep in mind that this is the same President who boasted about his “earned" political capital when he won a narrow victory in 2004…the same president that now struggles to maintain the approval of 30 percent of the voting public. Not surprisingly, men like George Bush are emboldened by majority consensus…but they are also adept at diminishing and disregarding those occasions when the majority finds their actions unacceptable. No doubt it is an inherent flaw of the absolutist mind.

I’m inclined to think that voters see the election and presidency of men like George Bush as touchstone events which provide the momentum to reverse the proverbial swing of the left/right pendulum. The notion that the culture of the United States had deteriorated such that a shift towards faith and values seemed reasonable culminated in the Bush presidency. Notwithstanding, I believe the Bush presidency will also serve as the impetus for the demise of that trending.

Perhaps my theory is wishful thinking but I suspect that the 2006 election was the first evidence that a shift was in progress. Given that much of what voters objected to prior to the 2006 election still exists or has become even more troubling, I would expect to see 2008 as a further step in the shifting sentiment. All indications suggest that President Bush’s final months in office will provide further motivation and added evidence that a reversal is in order.

Mr. President, have at it…you’re increasingly dictatorial actions will undoubtedly provide the best argument for wholesale change. As with Richard Nixon, your predisposition for more power is absolute. What you fail to realize is that each added demonstration of your intransigent and insatiable hunger will only serve to bolster the resolve of the American voter…a resolution that history will note was spoken loud and clear…one that said "Never again"!

Daniel DiRito | July 20, 2007 | 10:45 AM
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1 On July 22, 2007 at 8:10 AM, Rainbow Demon wrote —

Just a note to let you know that I've linked to your article, Daniel.


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