Thursday, March 01, 2007

Imperial Presidency? Indeed!

Over at Firedoglake, Christie (aka Redhead) has a great tribute to Arthur Schlesinger up on her site. Schlesinger died last night at the age of 89. Wiki has a nice description of his legacy here:

Schlesinger was a prolific contributor to liberal theory and was a passionate and articulate voice for Kennedy-style liberalism. He was admired for his wit, scholarship, and devotion to delineating the history and nature of liberalism. Since 1990 he had been a critic of multiculturalism.

I had actually forgotten Schlesinger's works because he hasn't been in the media eye for years, but Christie reminds us that it was Schlesinger who coined the phrase, Imperial Presidency, and, wrote a comprehensive work on it by the same title.

At Firedoglake, Christie calls upon a piece done by John Dean of Watergate fame on the subject of Imperial Presidency. Dean talks mostly about the manner in which Nixon claimed for the Presidency (actually himself as we now know) extraordinary powers and went so far as to take the government to court in the oddly-named "United States vs United States Court for the Eastern District of Michigan" case.

Dean describes Nixon's basis for expanded powers like this:

"After Nixon pushed the presidential powers even further than past presidents had, both the Congress and Supreme Court acted to curtail his activities. In the name of protecting national security, Nixon wanted to be able to wiretap without the approval of a judge. The authority for this power? Before the Court of Appeals, Nixon relied on a vague "historical power of the sovereign to preserve itself" and "the inherent power of the President to safeguard the security of the nation."

Later, arguing the issue before the Supreme Court, the government got even more vague — just loosely using the national security contention. In the end, the Court — in the ironically named case United States v. United States Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (which became known as the Keith Case) — said no. Joining the opinion were all of Nixon's own appointees — except William Rehnquist, who recused himself…."

If any of this is beginning to sound just a bit familiar to you, it's because Bush has been making this claim for some time now. He is using the "Commander-in-chief" title to claim that he and he alone is responsible for the safety and security of the country, and, therefore, ANYTHING he does is inherently LEGAL. Bush is supported in this contention by a law professor named John Yoo, described in his Newshour interview as:

And John Yoo, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, he was a primary architect of the Bush administration's detainee and interrogation policies while working in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. Since then, he's written a book on presidential powers in time of war.

I think all of us in the liberal/progressive end of the spectrum thought we had killed this consecpt with the end of Reagan's term of office....but it's back...with a vengence with the Bush Administration.

In my opinion, we need an overwhelming rejection of the principles of the Imperial Presidency so that it can never raise it's ugly head again....and 3000+ Americans won't have to die for Imperial Hubris..

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