Thursday, March 22, 2007

Just in time for summer . . . flip flops.

I am honestly torn over whether President Bush is right or wrong to resist a subpoena from Congress to have his aides testify under oath (side note: for a surprisingly cordial, surprisingly intellectual discussion as to why, check out John Bolton debating Jon Stewart on the Daily Show this week), but it is laughable how easily our elected officials and their appointees change their minds on this issue. As you might recall, President Clinton faced a similar (though not identical) challenge to executive privilege while he was in office. Here is what our fearless leaders had to say about it then:

  • Trent Lott (R-MS): "Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said Clinton should stop the fight over executive privilege. 'I think he should give up that contest," Lott told reporters Monday. "And I think he should be forthcoming. He should give us more information, not less.'"

  • Tony Snow (White House Press Secretary): "Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up. Chances are that the courts will hurl such a claim out, but it will take time. One gets the impression that Team Clinton values its survival more than most people want justice and thus will delay without qualm. But as the clock ticks, the public’s faith in Mr. Clinton will ebb away for a simple reason: Most of us want no part of a president who is cynical enough to use the majesty of his office to evade the one thing he is sworn to uphold — the rule of law." (Not sure who unearthed this first, but the folks at thinkprogress.com credit Glen Greenwald at salon.com).

(side note: In case his guest appearances on Limbaugh and frequent substitutions for O'Reilly on The Factor weren't enough to make you 100% certain that this guy is white, they named him "Snow" just to remove all doubt).


  • Patrick Leahy (D-VT): (In the context of the a related executive privilege question during Clinton era) "Most importantly, compelling compliance with a congressional subpoena in this context would be difficult. The civil contempt mechanism normally available to Congress, see 28 U.S.C. § 1365, specifically exempts subpoenas to the executive branch. The criminal contempt mechanism, see 2 U.S.C. § 192, which punishes as a misdemeanor a refusal to testify or produce documents to Congress, requires a referral to the Justice Department, which is not likely to pursue compliance in the likely event that the President asserts executive privilege in response to the request for certain documents or testimony. Thus, the only legal way to enforce this subpoena would be to hold a witness in contempt using its “inherent contempt authority,” but this would require a contempt trial on the floor of the Senate. Not many of us relished our role as jurors during the impeachment trial and are not anxious to reprise that role."



. . . . scary . . . .

Regardless of where I ultimately fall on this (and I am leaning towards favoring the enforceability of the subpoenas), I hope it goes up to the Supreme Court. Either the Democrats win (great success!), or we lose and the Democratic president has the benefit of a great precedent on executive privilege for the next four or eight years.

3 comments:

ChuckJerry said...

"I hope it goes up to the Supreme Court. Either the Democrats win (great success!), or we lose and the Democratic president has the benefit of a great precedent on executive privilege for the next four or eight years."

This, I think it what's wrong with politics. It's not about what's right or wrong anymore. I don't know if it ever was about that. It's just about getting one over on the other guy.

The same clowns who wanted to put Clinton in front of the firing squad are the ones defending Bush's right to executive privelege.

And your post is somewhat biased, BPG, because I'm sure you can find quotes of Democrats who were on exact opposite sides in the reverse order.

Everyone in politics sucks. There are no good people, just good ideas.

side bar said...

"And your post is somewhat biased, BPG, because I'm sure you can find quotes of Democrats who were on exact opposite sides in the reverse order."


Patrick Leahy is the DEMOCRATIC chair of the committee, jerkstore.

ChuckJerry said...

Duly noted, I suck.

Incidentally, I love to use the "jerkstore" insult and I love that you've made it one word.

It's insulting and funny at the same time, and if you don't get the reference then you're even more out in the cold.