Saturday, April 7, 2007

Iraq War & Separation of Powers

The recent events concerning Congress's votes setting dates for withdrawal from Iraq illustrate again something on which I've commented previously: President George W. Bush's extreme position on the scope of executive power vis-a-vis the legislative power.

Again, no surprise here - after all, puppet-master Dick Cheney's major lesson-learned from the Nixon Watergate era (in which he participated as a Nixon staffer) was that the president had been unfairly constrained in his activities by a snoopy Congress. The entire Bush presidency is characterized by Cheney's efforts, through Bush, to undo the constraints put on the executive during Watergate and to move more toward a "unitary executive."

So today, even though Congress, distinguished bi-partisan groups of American leaders (the Iraq Study Group), and the American people have overwhelmingly expressed their desire to wind things down in Iraq, the president believes he is accountable to no one; and, moreover, that Congress is in some way acting inappropriately, or "micromanaging," as it exercises its constitutionally-granted spending power to specify some of the terms under which its spending will proceed.

The Bush Administration's position is really quite extreme - it basically creates a limited-time presidential dictatorship, where the executive is accountable to NO ONE or NO OTHER BRANCH of government. Under this approach, the president is absolutely above reproach, and the only way to rein him in is impeachment.

It's really quite remarkable - and quite inappropriate under the letter and spirit of the Constitution, which sets up a system of separation of powers between co-equal branches of government in order to prevent any one of them from assuming too much power.

Gross abuses of power constitute "high crimes and misdemeanors" under the Constitution. How much longer before impeachment is "back on the table," Speaker Pelosi?