Saturday, May 27, 2006

Checks and Balances Still Working

This article in the WP shows Bush actually acting like a grownup and a leader. (Of course, it wouldn't be the first time WH insiders have lied about what Bush has said and done in private).

The confrontation between the Congress and the Justice Department over the search of Rep. Jefferson's office was escalating. As it looked like Bush might order the return of the seized documents, AG Gonzales and two others were making noise about resigning over what they considered a political interference in a criminal investigation.
The desire to do something before the Memorial Day recess also created an "artificial deadline" that Bush considered counterproductive. "As the week moved on," [a senior administration] official said, "there's no question emotions were running high on both sides. . . . People had a gun to their head, and it was really making people not more flexible but more intense. It was his view to say let's get more time."


Bush decided to head off the situation. He summoned Cheney, Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, counselor Dan Bartlett, legislative director Candida Wolff, White House Counsel Harriet Miers, Deputy White House Counsel William K. Kelley and some other staff members to the Oval Office on Thursday morning and announced that he had decided to seal the Jefferson documents.

"I'm going to put an end to the escalation," one official quoted Bush as saying. "We've got to calm this down."
But more importantly than Bush acting like a leader, it shows that the White House knows for a fact that the power of the Executive, even in a "time of war," is actually Constitutionally limited.
Bush aides were also worried about a war with the Republican House if the president did not act.

"If you tell the House to stick it where the sun don't shine, you're talking about a fundamentally corrosive relationship between two branches of government," the senior administration official said. "They could zero out funding; they could say, 'Okay, you can do subpoenas, so can we.' "

The first bolded part is the single best argument against the President's assertion that the Constitution gives him war powers to do whatever he thinks is in the best interest of national security. He has no power to fund his enterprises. That means, inherently within the Constitution, that the President has to seek Congressional approval for any action he takes, especially if his actions will require funding. Such as waging wars and spying on U.S. citizens. It also means that, inherently within the Constitution, the President has to have the approval of the Supreme Court, since the Legislature can't okay unconstitutional acts. That's checks and balances in a nutshell.

The second bolded part is what really cowed the WH, though. They're not too afraid of Congress defunding their various projects, because they've so effectively lied to and hidden information from both Congress and the public, stealing billions and violating civil liberties. They can work the PR - at least they used to be able to, so maybe it does concern them a bit. But they're especially worried about being forced to testify and provide documents about those projects. In other words, having to tell the truth.

And Bush's predicament really goes a long way to showing us that checks and balances are still vitally alive. It's just this Congress which refuses to use its inherent powers to enforce them.

And we know what has to be done about that. This November.

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