Presidential Precedent

Take these pussilient politicians to task. There needs to be broad criticism of this recent failure to respect the law- because what we often forget is that if this President gets away with it, what about the future? The behavior of this administration, left unchecked, are putting us down a dangerous path. Do our politicians care about that? Correct me if I am wrong, but when Clinton was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice- the House Democrats offered a censure as an alternative to formal impeachment. And yet when even many prominent legal scholars cannot seem to buy into Gonzo's rationale, the move for censure failed. Why don't they look at history to make the case for censure, to the American people? Many Americans support the restoration of lawfulness.Censure is the minimum, the political equivalent of a "naughty stool". You're telling me that Bush has a more compelling argument for his 'arrogance for safety program" than Roosevelt had? ...(cont)

People call 9-11 a "Pearl Harbor". And yet, "the" Pearl Harbor did not prompt the President to snub Congress. They need to compare war time Presidents and their behaviors. For those that say this is not a big deal- ask yourself why it has ALWAYS been considered a big deal before?

The last and only person to commit Bushery, Nixon, was removed from office. So why is he getting away with this? Why are they letting this go on?

In my opinion, we need to remind our elected public servants that they work for us and should be availing themselves of opportunities to uphold the law and serve our collective interests.

Write a letter, make a phone call. Do something. Let's all commit to something!

Why not ask on what basis your friendly politician seemed unable to support censure. WHAT REASONS ARE SO COMPELLING THAT IT WARRANTS TURNING THEIR BACK ON THE LAW? "Mr./Mrs. (blank) do you think that Bush has a better case for not approaching Congress than Lincoln in the Civil War?"

What will you friendly politicians answer you? (ok, their interns?)

"We don't need to get bogged down by this." Really? At a time when we are proclaiming ourselves to be the liberators, beacons of Democracy- somehow it seems timely to turn a blind eye to high crimes?

"We are at war. Things are different." Really? Well we have been at war, and many argue that our soil has been in far graver and imminent jeopardy before. Did war time Presidents ignore the law? Or did they go to Congress?

The argument for the President's blatant disregard for FISA by his own admission is most frequently defended by his minions with the "wartime" argument. And yet we can look at every war President except for Nixon (who was reckoned with) and see that they ALL seemed to feel that the law compelled them to seek approval from Congress in the name of lawbreaking for war.

John Dean: from "Bush's Unprecedented Arrogance" (link)

"In a 6-3 ruling, the Court, in Youngstown Co. v. Sawyer , held that Truman's attempted takeover of the steel mills was unconstitutional. Truman then asked Congress for emergency legislation, but Congress turned him down too.

As the strong dissent in Youngstown notes, the "diversity of views expressed in the six opinions of the majority, the lack of reference to authoritative precedent, the repeated reliance upon prior dissenting opinions, the complete disregard of the uncontroverted facts showing the gravity of the emergency and the temporary nature of the taking all serve to demonstrate how far afield one must go to" deny Truman this power. It seems Bush believes he can ride on that dissent. But in the end, the dissent not only is not the law; it is not persuasive.

Truman's actions were not unprecedented: President Lincoln had seized rail and telegraph lines during the Civil War; President Theodore Roosevelt was ready to seize Pennsylvania coal mines if a strike created shortages; President Wilson seized industrial plants and railroads during World War I; and six months before Peal Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt seized a California aviation plant when a strike occurred. These presidents, however, went to Congress -- as Truman also eventually did. Only Bush (like Nixon) refuses to do so.

As Donald McCoy's study of the Truman presidency (for the University Press of Kansas) points out, "Truman had sought not only to resolve the steel crisis but also substantially to expand the president's power in a single action that matched his sense of gravity of the emergency that was confronting the nation. He had gambled badly, and he had lost badly." The same could be said of Nixon, who lost even worse because he -- like Bush, and unlike Truman -- was acting secretly.

Bush, once it was learned what he was doing, could have asked Congress to grant him the authority that he believed he needed. Instead, he has taken the Nixon approach, and wants to do what he wants to do -- the Congress be damned. Will he succeed? What if he does? What if he doesn't?"


pinkfem said...

Peoplea are not upset about losing their rights, because 1. many do not know or remember history, 2. their perception of what their rights are has been eroded graually by a collusive pact between those in power and the press, Carl Rove's handiwork, I suspect, and 3. they are exhausted trying work and feed their families and get the house cleaned, shop for groceries and get the kidsin in the tub at night after they have made sure they do their homework. Back then, lives were simpler and slower and less stressful.
congress.org has a list of who to email in your district.

ELB said...

Pinkfem-you bring up another good point about why people feel that they are unable to pay attention, read, or be engaged in politics. But is it valid? The activists I know are some of the busiest-with kids,houses, gardens, volunteer work, scouts, soccer, graduate school, two jobs, etc. But they are passionate, concerned, and prioritize. Maybe they turn off a sitcom and write a letter and model that for their children as opposed to modeling "mommy is a lethargic assplant." Harsh?

Some of the most ignorant people I know are home all day with kids in school, a professional house cleaner, and the ability to pay for everything to be done including hiring children's party planners and nannies. I am not sure the "We're too tired" compared to "back then" argument holds. We have appliances, automatic everything- no- I think the difference is in the sense of civic responsibility.

People ran for office in many cases to serve, now they do it for power and influence. People no longer feel that it is their responsibility to be informed.

Lew Scannon said...

Bush had a law that would ahve allowed him to do what he wished to do, the fact that he chose to go around the law makes one wonder why, until you see that the people he was spying on, Quakers and vegans being the best example, had no relation to the "war on terror". And you are right, many wartime presidents still faithfully obeyed the Constitution, that is first and foremost their duty as public servants. Most people don't care because they have been told by the corporate media propaganda that this is "no big deal", when it is certainly a bigger deal than a stained blue dress and an act of perjury, for which a President was impeached. Then the media throws a distraction their way, Brangelina or TomKat, or the Final Four, and people find something else to occupy their attention.

fosco said...

Exactly Lew- they spent how much on that stained blue dress and and a small lie that had little to do with national security! And now they can't even give him a little 'talking to'? That is why people get so fed up and they avoid because it just seems hopelessly stupid.

People think that phone calls, letters, even their votes dont matter anymore so why bother? Just sleep, work, eat. Live. Whats the sense of trying to be involved in a system that won't permit it? These people don't even try! They don't eveen pretned to care. Bush;s numbers were so bad- what were they afraid of? If they don't act then, when? If they don't even say anything when the tides have turned?? USELESS.

Anonymous said...

Small lie? Thats ok then. Do you really think that its in your best interest to bring up the failed Clinton Presidency to debate the failings of this Presidency?

I think we are witnessing the death of the Democratic party as we debate. If they cant gain control of Congress with all these scandals and low polls then they have essentially ceased to exist as a viable party. The same goes for the Republicans, that is if they cant defeat these knuckleheads. Both parties have abandoned their core base, and for that they should both suffer

Anonymous said...

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You may not agree with the majority of it, but I think most of you here will enjoy it regardless.

Elizabeth Lily Branford said...

Donkey no, the point was not to use Clinto in that way- the post is about precedent and what the historical standards have been for 1- executive authority in wartime 2- the precedent, past practice of the wartime rationale and how it pertains to a president's relationship to Congress 3- the idea that elected officials did not see grounds for even censure (hardly even significant) and that they DID for the Clinton example. The Democrats offered censure in that case but they did not stand behind censure in THIS case.

The point was to question why, and more so to speak to the reasons I have been given AGAINST censure which is most often the 'wartime' excuse. The point was to show that in MANY "war times" past presidents still followed the law.

So why is this different?

Don't get us all bogged down in party crap, pinko-commie orgies, and your fixation with accusing the left of Clintonescence, pot, filth, hysterics, and Democrapussilization.

Do you, Donkeyhue, support censure? If not- WHY? Can you answer that simple thing? One question?

Anonymous said...

Don't get us all bogged down in party crap, pinko-commie orgies, and your fixation with accusing the left of Clintonescence, pot, filth, hysterics, and Democrapussilization.

When did I do that? I wasnt the one that first mentioned the sex lies and rock n roll of the Clinton years.

No I dont support censure in this instance. No law has been proven to have been broken. Now if the pusillanimals in the Dem party could muster up a sack and actually prove a law was broken harmful to the best interests of this country, I still wouldnt support censure but rather impeachment. Im of the philoshophy that all politicians are charlatans, most get away with their trickery those that dont should be tossed.

Regarding Presidential war time precedents...noone really cited examples so I will.

Lincoln: The forced drafting of newly legal immigrants.

FDR: internment, war time executions w/out trial

JFK: gov't sponsored assassinations (1 successful 1 not)

McKinley: faulty intel (remember the Maine)

Rhino-itall said...

all very good examples donkey, and also facts.
Lily mentions the censure vote of clinton like they had a choice. He broke the law, i'm not saying i wouldn't have done the same thing, but i'm not the president.
Bush has broken no laws. FACT.

Anonymous said...

...and dont even get me started on the lack of proper equipment provided to our troops in the Revolutionary War by Gen Washington.

Anonymous said...

These presidents, however, went to Congress -- as Truman also eventually did. Only Bush (like Nixon) refuses to do so

...actually thats not true. Bubba authorized air strikes in Serbia before going to Congress.

Troll Watcher said...

Bush's wiretap was illegal, until the Republicans passed a law okaying it. What slimeballs.

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mikevotes said...

Howdy folks.

I don't normally plug myself, but I think I may have stumbled across something big.

Reading John Dean's Findlaw column last night, he offers and interesting alternative sequence of events when Bush declassified after Libby leaked, maybe a sort of retroactive coverup.

I'm not sold yet, but it is a very interesting theory.


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