Friday, February 16, 2007

Joe Lieberman: More Republican than the Republicans?

Josh Marshall quotes the administration toady, "Independent" Joe Lieberman, pleading with the Senate to let Dear Leader Bush and Dark Lord Cheney do whatever they want:

Even as our troops have begun to take Baghdad back step-by-step, there are many in this Congress who have nevertheless already reached a conclusion about the futility of America’s cause there, and declared their intention to put an end to this mission not with one direct attempt to cutoff funds, but step by political step. No matter what the rhetoric of this resolution, that is the reality of the moment. This non-binding measure before us is a first step toward a constitutional crisis that we can and must avoid. Let me explain what I mean by a constitutional crisis. Let us be clear about the likely consequences if we go down this path beyond this non-binding resolution. Congress has been given constitutional responsibilities. But the micro-management of war is not one of them. The appropriation of funds for war is. I appreciate that each of us here has our own ideas about the best way forward in Iraq, I respect those that take a different position than I, and I understand that many feel strongly that the President’s strategy is the wrong one. But the Constitution, which has served us now for more than two great centuries of our history, creates not 535 commanders-in-chief, but one - the President of the United States, who is authorized to lead the day to day conduct of war. Whatever our opinion of this war or its conduct, it is in no one’s interest to stumble into a debilitating confrontation between our two great branches of government over war powers. The potential for a constitutional crisis here and now is real, with congressional interventions, presidential vetoes, and Supreme Court decisions. If there was ever a moment for nonpartisan cooperation to agree on a process that will respect both our personal opinions about this war and our nation’s interests over the long term, this is it. (my emphasis)
How does a democracy die? This is one way.

The Cheney-Bush administration has been trampling on the Constitution even before the day they took office, thanks to invaluable assistance from the Scalia Five in taking office despite Al Gore's election victory in 2000.

The only reason there hasn't been a "Constititional crisis" is because the Republican Congress and, for the most part, the Republican-dominated federal judiciary were willing to roll over and play dead for Cheney's theory and practice of the Unilateral Executive form of government in which the President is bound neither by law or the Constitution. It's advocates call it the "Unitary Executive" theory, but Gore's "Unilateral Executive" label is more descriptive.

The phrase "Constitutional crisis" is normally used these days when there is an actual conflict among branches of the federal government over some substantive issue. So you could say that from 2001-2006, we had a "Constitutional trampling" instead of a Constitutional crisis.

Lieberman says a Constitutional crisis is something "that we can and must avoid". And he makes it clear that what he means is that Congress should avoid such a crisis by refusing to exercise its own war powers and by meekly agreeing to continued illegal and un-Constitutional practices by Cheney and Bush.

In other words, if we just act like there's no Constitution, we won't have any crisis over it!

Lieberman gets more and more pitiful as time goes on.

The reality is more like what Paul Krugman wrote earlier this year, that 2007 and 2008 are likely to be one long, rolling Constitutional crisis.

For more on the Cheneyist notion of the "commander-in-chief", see the post by Jack Balkin that I've referenced here before,
Two Concepts of Commander-in-Chief Balinization blog 02/05/07.

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