November, 2nd 2007

Standing up to Big Daddy

– Liz Mair

Over at Reason, Brian Doherty is urging Congress to call Bush's bluff with regard to AG nominee Mukasey. Go take a look at what he (briefly) has to say.

While (as I said yesterday) I'm not convinced that were I in the Senate, I'd be concerned enough about Mukasey's responses on the subject of waterboarding to vote against him, I will say this: after having watched the President's remarks at Heritage again yesterday, I'd be tempted to do it, or just not vote, purely for the reason that Doherty implies. Bush is behaving like everyone's big, mean Daddy right now, and also happens to be leveling threats that sound to me an awful lot like "well, if you don't want that AG, you're not going to get any AG," which frankly is unacceptable in the context of American democracy. I think it's pretty clear from Bush's comments that we've now gone past the point of a president merely using the bully pulpit and trying to hard sell Congress on something they may not be prepared to buy, and have now reached the point where the President is actually, well, dictating and threatening. The problem is, no matter what one may think of his underlying case, or the merits of Mukasey, we live in a country where there's supposed to be balance between the different limbs of government, and where no single one does get to dictate.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not surprised Bush is trying it. All executives are prone to attempt to expand their power, and to order the other branches of government around (and I totally get the temptation given who's running the show on Capitol Hill and how idiotic a lot of what they do is). In addition, this administration has succeeded in expanding its powers, and so why would Bush not think he can act this way? That doesn't actually excuse his behavior, though, and so capricious as it might seem, I'd be tempted were I in the Senate to vote against Mukasey or not vote, and make the point to the President.


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