Bad News Week That Our Fearless Leader Can't just "Sign" Away
By Lee Russ
Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 05:19 PM
With very low popularity and perilous election to be held in a few short months, it's probably not surprising that President Bush keeps getting bad news. Then again, most of the bad news involves people finally standing up to oppose some of the destructive positions and policies adopted in the most arrogant and power-hungry administration I've had the displeasure to witness. Like "signing statements"First is the release of the ABA's report calling Bush's use of the signing statement as a device to pervert the work of the legislative branch a threat to the Constitution's system of separation of powers.
The report (from a bipartisan task force that included several Republicans of conservative bent) will be presented to the ABA's House of Delegates next month, and the delegates will vote on whether to adopt the report's recommendations.
Neal Sonnett, the Chair of the ABA Task Force that produced the report, is quoted as saying:
The recommendations that we make are an effort to correct practices that, if they continue, threaten to throw this country into a constitutional crisis. Most of the members of the House of Delegates are very concerned about upholding the rule of law. That is, after all, the mission of the ABA. So I'm hopeful that we will get a resounding show of support.
The second piece of can't-be-good news came from Bush's fellow Republican but sometimes critic Senator Arlen Specter who is reported to have said on the Senate floor that
We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will...authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president's acts declared unconstitutional.
[Editor Note: Another Republican Senator, John Cornyn, has voiced his opinion that this pretty much a tempest in a teapot, theorizing that the President's interpretation of the laws won't be given any weight by a court reviewing the law's constitutionality. But...
Cornyn's justification that expressions of presidential opinion carry no legal weight because federal courts are unlikely to consider them when deciding cases that challenge the same laws is absurd. As a current Senator and a former judge, he has to know that this is absurd. The president's signing statements directly and strongly affect how the laws are enforced by the executive branch.
By using the signing statement device, he guarantees that his view will be the official view of the law until some individual citizen is sufficiently harmed by Bush's interpretation to achieve the magical "standing" required in order to file a lawsuit. It is only in that lawsuit, which will probably not be brought until Bush's interpretation of the law has been in force for years, that Bush's signing statement will be given the lack of respect that Cornyn describes.
And given the incredible number of conservative ideologues now serving in the federal judiciary, I do not have confidence that even the judiciary will treat Bush's signing statements the way that Cornyn describes.
I hope that the Senate passes Specter's bill or one like it, even though I'm virtually certain the House would kill it. If the House is forced to kill it before the election, and the public is aware enough to realize what's at stake here (a huge assumption, to be sure), the issue may bite the House Republicans who kill the Bill.]
If that's not enough bad news for the President, Time magazine summarily reported the other day that:
Bush....is curtailing his traditional August working vacation at the ranch so that he can barnstorm before the midterm elections. Their outlook thus far seems so ominous for the G.O.P. that one Presidential adviser wants Bush to beef up his counsel's office for the tangle of investigations that a Democrat-controlled House might pursue.
Indeed. One of the most interesting things in modern politics would be what happens when Democrats finally retrieve subpena power and start looking in all the dark little corners where Bush & Co. have been sweeping things. Just imagine how many really disgusted federal employees there are out there, who have watched this crew of radicals come in and distort/corrupt entire agencies to which these employees had devoted their entire lives. Just imagine how eager they probably are to tell someone what these radicals have done to them. To us. To everyone.
For what it's worth, I think Democrats would make a huge error by spending the election season talking about possible impeachment, even though so many voters would like to hear it. There are also tons of voters who think that's premature.
The topic should be not impeachment but the need to find out the truth about what these radicals have done. That means that suspicious actions and programs need to be investigated, thoroughly and honestly. Let the investigation results lead where they lead.