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Bush: "I'm responsible for the Federal government." Constitution: "No, you're not."

The Decider cuts loose with another one, lets the mask slip, and reveals his authoritarianism for all to see:

[BUSHH] On my grade, I could have -- we -- the federal government, and I'm responsible for the federal government, could have done better in coordinating with the state and local government in its response.

(Video here)

Um, no. Last I checked, the Federal government had three branches. Let's review:

The federal government has three branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial. Through a system of separation of powers, each of these branches has some authority to act on its own, some authority to regulate the other two branches, and has some of its authority, in turn, regulated by one or both of the other branches.

The reasoning behing the separation of powers is best spelled out in James Madison's famous Federalist 47:

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

And the Founders wisely put the separation of powers in place to protect us against the evils of tyranny. As I wrote back in 2005 ("Republicans vs. the Constitution: The problem of evil"):

James Madison writes in Federalist #51:

Different interests necessarily exist in different classes of citizens. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure. There are but two methods of providing against this evil: the one by creating a will in the community independent of the majority that is, of the society itself; the other, by comprehending in the society so many separate descriptions of citizens as will render an unjust combination of a majority of the whole very improbable, if not impracticable. The first method prevails in all governments possessing an hereditary or self-appointed authority. This, at best, is but a precarious security; because a power independent of the society may as well espouse the unjust views of the major, as the rightful interests of the minor party, and may possibly be turned against both parties. The second method will be exemplified in the federal republic of the United States. Whilst all authority in it will be derived from and dependent on the society, the society itself will be broken into so many parts, interests, and classes of citizens, that the rights of individuals, or of the minority, will be in little danger from interested combinations of the majority. In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity of sects. The degree of security in both cases will depend on the number of interests and sects; and this may be presumed to depend on the extent of country and number of people comprehended under the same government.
(via Federalist Papers)


For Madison, evil was to be minimized through the separation of powers: Powers in conflict, doing small evils, are to be preferred to powers united, capable of doing great evil.

With one single breathtaking statement, Bush lets the mask slip and reveals his authoritarianism completely. In no sense, in no sense whatever, is Bush "responsible for the Federal government" under the Constitution. Bush's statement is simply counterfactual. With one statement, Bush shows he has no understanding or respect for the Constitution; Bush shows he has no understanding or respect for the separation of powers; Bush shows he has no understanding or respect for the oath of office whose words he mouthed.

The Constitution, the oldest in the world, our democracy, the oldest in the world: All gone, if Bush has his way. Truly, he is The Decider.

This statement stinks. But then tyranny stinks as badly as the rotting bodies left in the streets of New Orleans by Republican malfeasance during Katrina. More so, in fact, because tyranny can last for generations, and Constitutional government, once lost, may never be regained.

And, oh yeah, "we the people" are ultimately responsible for the Federal government, Mr. Bush. All three branches of it. Not you.

NOTE Here's a link to a copy of the United States Constitution, if there are any recovering authoritarians who need to refresh their memories. The powers of the legislative branch are spelled out in Article I; the powers of the executive branch in Article II; and the judicial branch, Article III.

NOTE Originally buried way deep in Froomkin.

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