Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Nixon's Ghost

"If the president does it, it can't be illegal." -- Richard Nixon

Both the power-mad Bush regime and its critics have been conjuring up the Nixon's ghost in an attempt to explain Bush's assertion of heretofore unknown presidential prerogatives. On the one hand, Dick Cheney aggressively defends the president's right to discover new powers. The LA Times reports
President Bush's decision to bypass court review and authorize domestic wiretapping by executive order was part of a concerted effort to rebuild presidential powers weakened in the 1970s as a result of the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War, Vice President Dick Cheney said Tuesday.

Returning from a trip to the Middle East, Cheney said that threats facing the country required that the president's authority under the Constitution be "unimpaired."

"Watergate and a lot of the things around Watergate and Vietnam, both during the 1970s, served, I think, to erode the authority I think the president needs to be effective, especially in the national security area," Cheney told reporters traveling with him on Air Force Two. "Especially in the day and age we live in the president of the United States needs to have his constitutional powers unimpaired, if you will, in terms of the conduct of national security policy."
This is one of the clearest statements to date of the administration's goal of reversing not just the reforms of that era but even the history. Impeaching Nixon was wrong. The Vietnam war was right. The real reason Bush didn't seek authorization for the wiretaps wasn't national security but the expansion of his own authority-- to restore the presidency to its lost Nixonian grandeur.

The opposition is of course also starting to raise the specter of Nixon with an eye to the threat of impeachment. However, 2005 is not 1974. It is impossible to imagine a Republican Congress impeaching Bush. And even if they did, we'd get Cheney.

3 Comments:

At 12/22/2005 8:38 AM, Blogger Comandante Agí said...

I think Nixon would be jealous of these guys. I mean, Cheney comes close to being Thomas Hobbes’ ideal ruler.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it state that the president’s duty is to “protect the American people”. The president’s job to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”, and Bush has done the opposite of that. The presidency was never meant to be a paternalistic office but these guys think father knows best.

 
At 12/23/2005 3:10 PM, Blogger velid said...

That's exactly right. And it is a huge irony seening all those libertarian conservatives cheering the most openly paternalistic regime in US history.

The only category of crime in which Nixon still leads is mass murder. And well -- the war is still young.

 
At 12/24/2005 9:34 AM, Blogger Comandante Agí said...

Yup. But Syria might soon become W's Cambodia. So you never know...

 

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