Gore: With theory of "unilateral executive" Bush crowns himself king
Unless we uncrown him. Yes, it's a Constitutional crisis.
Of course, Gore's speech at Constitution Hall was all over the evening news—No? Gosh. Anyhow. The full text is here. Read it all, but here is the money thread for me:
The principle alternative to democracy throughout history has been the consolidation of virtually all state power in the hands of a single strongman or small group who together exercise that power without the informed consent of the governed.
It was in revolt against just such a regime, after all, that America was founded. When Lincoln declared at the time of our greatest crisis that the ultimate question being decided in the Civil War was "whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure," he was not only saving our union but also was recognizing the fact that democracies are rare in history. And when they fail, as did Athens and the Roman Republic upon whose designs our founders drew heavily, what emerges in their place is another strongman regime. ...
Sound familiar? Follow Gore on the flip:
This Administration has come to power in the thrall of a legal theory that aims to convince us that this excessive concentration of presidential authority is exactly what our Constitution intended.
This legal theory, which its proponents call the theory of the unitary executive but which is more accurately described as the unilateral executive, threatens to expand the president's powers until the contours of the constitution that the Framers actually gave us become obliterated beyond all recognition. Under this theory, the President's authority when acting as Commander-in-Chief or when making foreign policy cannot be reviewed by the judiciary or checked by Congress.
If this President's attempt to dramatically expand executive power goes unquestioned, our constitutional design of checks and balances will be lost.
We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens' right not only to life but also to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the Executive Branch and the President's apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.
And "apparent" is being polite. Knight-Ridder is still doing some reporting, despite intimidation from the right:
Bush asserts power over laws
President Bush agreed with great fanfare last month to accept a ban on torture, but he later quietly reserved the right to ignore it, even as he signed it into law. Bush has used signing statements to reject, revise, or put his spin on more than 500 legislative provisions. Experts say he has been far more aggressive than any previous president in using the statements to claim sweeping executive power - and not just on national-security issues.
And guess who invented the "signing statement"? Why, Scalito!
The White House may soon have an ally on the Supreme Court. As a Justice Department lawyer in the Reagan administration, Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote a 1986 memo outlining plans for expanded use of presidential signing statements.
Lovely. So, here we are in the midst of a Constitutional crisis, and the SCLM butchers the story, as usual. AP's [cough] coverage is an obfuscatory mish-mash of "he said, she said" "balanced" reporting, that frames the issue as warrantless wiretapping (sigh...), not as a Constitutional crisis. WaPo is a little better, framing the issue as "lawbreaking," and not as a Constitutional crisis. Ditto the poor old Times. Though it does report that Gore "grew animated and raised his voice." Say, is that Dignified?