Mudcat Café message #1763036 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #91956   Message #1763036
Posted By: Amos
18-Jun-06 - 04:18 PM
Thread Name: BS: Unpopular views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Unpopular views of the Bush Administration
America's problem is again a usurping king called George

Bush's determination to impose his own reading of new laws amounts to
a power grab and subverts the US constitution

Martin Kettle
Saturday June 17, 2006
The Guardian

Imagine a country with a different kind of monarch from the one we
are used to. Forget the nation-binding human monarch whom Archbishop
Rowan Williams praised so deftly this week. Imagine instead a monarch
who, like many of Elizabeth II's ancestors, routinely reserved the
right to override laws passed by the legislature, or who repeatedly
asserted that the laws mean something they do not say. Imagine, in
fact, King George of America.

On April 30 the Boston Globe journalist Charlie Savage wrote an
article whose contents become more astonishing the more one reads
them. Over the past five years, Savage reported, President George
Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws
that have been enacted by the United States Congress since he took
office. At the heart of Bush's strategy is the claim that the
president has the power to set aside any statute that conflicts with
his own interpretation of the constitution.

Remarkably, this systematic reach for power has occurred not in
secret but in public. Go to the White House website and the evidence
is there in black and white. It takes the form of dozens of documents
in which Bush asserts that his power as the nation's commander in
chief entitles him to overrule or ignore bills sent to him by
Congress for his signature. Behind this claim is a doctrine of the
"unitary executive", which argues that the president's oath of office
endows him with an independent authority to decide what a law means.

Periodically, congressional leaders come down from Capitol Hill to
applaud as the president, seated at his desk, signs a bill that
becomes the law of the land. They are corny occasions. But they are a
photo-op reminder that American law-making involves compromises that
reflect a balance between the legislature and the presidency. The
signing ceremony symbolises that the balance has been upheld and

After the legislators leave, however, Bush puts his signature to
another document. Known as a signing statement, this document is a
presidential pronouncement setting out the terms in which he intends
to interpret the new law. These signing statements often conflict
with the new statutes. In some cases they even contradict their clear
meaning. Increasing numbers of scholars and critics now believe they
amount to a systematic power grab within a system that rests on
checks and balances of which generations of Americans have been
rightly proud - and of which others are justly envious.

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