I had a roommate once who asked me to leave the phone in my name when I moved out. He was low on cash and didn’t want to pay the installation fees. He gave me his word of honor that he would pay the bills and switch it over to his name as soon as he could. But, he broke his word and didn’t pay the bills. When I confronted him and asked him to give me the money he owed me, he refused. So, I knocked him unconscious. I never got my money, but he had to pay nonetheless.
Today the Democratic Party is in the same situation with George W. Bush that I was in with my roommate. George W. Bush took an oath to “faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
He has been caught red-handed not only failing to preserve and protect those laws, but breaking them. And, like my roommate, when he was confronted he refused to make things right. He told all American citizens to ‘go get fucked’.
In these circumstances, there is nothing left to do but knock George W. Bush out.
Prior to the NSA scandal and, more importantly, Bush’s response to the NSA scandal, it was possible for reasonable Americans to disagree over whether the President had betrayed his trust and should be removed from office. Now there is nothing more to debate.
The latest Newsweek has revelations about some of the courageous people in the Justice Department that have been trying to rein in the wanton criminality of the Bush administration. Newsweek uses unusually strong language to characterize what these lawyers were up against.
These Justice Department lawyers, backed by their intrepid boss [James] Comey, had stood up to the hard-liners, centered in the office of the vice president, who wanted to give the president virtually unlimited powers in the war on terror. Demanding that the White House stop using what they saw as farfetched rationales for riding rough-shod over the law and the Constitution, [Jack] Goldsmith and the others fought to bring government spying and interrogation methods within the law. They did so at their peril; ostracized, some were denied promotions, while others left for more comfortable climes in private law firms and academia. Some went so far as to line up private lawyers in 2004, anticipating that the president’s eavesdropping program would draw scrutiny from Congress, if not prosecutors. These government attorneys did not always succeed, but their efforts went a long way toward vindicating the principle of a nation of laws and not men.
That is strong stuff. But it is not surprising. We are in a full-fledged constitutional crisis. Bush is asking his own party, a party with a strong and admirable legacy of libertarianism, to take his side over the side of the constitution. Bush’s decision to inflict this pain on his party is bad enough, but to do it to them in an election year is excruciating. The Republicans know that their President has overstepped his bounds and asserted executive powers that do not exist. They know all their talking points are lies.
In these circumstances we should not even be debating the wisdom of putting Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court. Samuel Alito was selected because he is one of the few judges in the country that might rule in Bush’s favor if and when his assertions of executive power come before the court. Voting for Alito is no different than endorsing the erasure of the 4th amendment.
The Democratic activists understand this. The party in Washington is coming around. We have no choice but to reassert the separation of powers and to forcefully declare the Bush administration as accountable before the law. If they will not back down to Congress, Bush AND Cheney will have to be removed from office by Congress.
That is how the system is designed to work. The Republicans understand this. The Democrats need to start insisting that their colleagues across the aisle act to protect their own prerogatives. And that starts with a filibuster of Alito.