Glenn: "Mukasey explicitly embraces the most extreme theories of presidential omnipotence and lawlessness"
Mukasey's radical worldview is now the norm
Yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, featuring day-long testimony from Attorney General Michael Mukasey, was extraordinary for only one reason: for our country, what happened in the hearing is now completely ordinary. While Mukasey may be marginally more straightforward than Alberto Gonzales was -- more willing to conform to the procedural formalities of independence -- he is, ideologically, a clone of John Yoo and David Addington and is as much of a loyal adherent to the Bush/Cheney extremist worldview as Gonzales ever was.
Mukasey explicitly embraces the most extreme theories of presidential omnipotence and lawlessness and displays as much Cheney-ite contempt for the notion of Congressional oversight as the Vice President himself. He repeatedly endorsed patently illegal behavior -- including torture -- and refused even to pretend that he cared what the Senate thought about any of it. He even told Republican Senators that they have no right to pass a whistleblower law allowing federal employees who learn of lawbreaking to inform Congress about it, because such a law would infringe on the President's constitutional powers. In Mukasey's worldview, the President has unlimited power and Congress has none.
And none of this is particularly surprising, given that -- as I emphasized after his nomination was announced -- Mukasey is the federal judge who, when presiding over the Padilla case in 2002, endorsed the most tyrannical and un-American power there is, when he ruled that the President even has the power to imprison U.S. citizens indefinitely, even when detained on U.S. soil, with no process of any kind -- a position he refused to repudiate during his confirmation hearing.
None of what he said yesterday is extraordinary, despite how radical and jarring it is. Mukasey repeatedly insisted that even his most lawlessness-endorsing views are within our political mainstream, and he's right about that. It's now been seven years that our country has functioned under the radical executive power theories of the Bush administration, which include the right of the President to break the law. Congress long ago decided it would do nothing about any of it, would acquiesce to it, and thus -- as was predictable and predicted -- it has all become normalized.
glenn has gradually evolved into one of the most insightful, articulate, and no-holds-barred observers of the bush administration's ceaseless efforts to accumulate unlimited and unaccountable executive power while running roughshod over every principle espoused in our constitution and our self-proclaimed veneration of the rule of law... but he is also wise enough to not shrink from the full reality surrounding our descent into fascism...
I long ago stopped blaming the Bush administration -- at least exclusively -- for what has happened to our political system. They were responsible in the first instance, but the rest of the country's institutions -- its media, its Congress, the "opposition" party, even the courts -- all allowed it to happen, choosing to do nothing -- or to endorse it -- once it all began to be disclosed. It wouldn't have surprised the Founders that we would have corrupt and lawbreaking political leaders, including in the White House. The idea was that there would be numerous checks on that corruption. But when those other institutions fail, or are complicit, the fault is collective.
Consider how normalized this has all become: President Bush this week issued one of his most brazen signing statements yet, contesting the right of Congress even to exercise its spending power to bar the use of funds for permanent bases in Iraq. The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin noted that not a single journalist other than The Boston Globe's indefatigable Charlie Savage even reported on this event. As Froomkin said:The overall message to Congress was clear: I'm not bound by your laws. . . . But it's Bush's cavalier dismissal of the ban on funding for permanent military bases that really speaks volumes -- not just about his view of the role of the legislative branch, but also about his intentions for Iraq. . . . Looking for a news story about all this in your morning paper? You won't find one in The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times or the Wall Street Journal.
In one sense, I understand Froomkin's indignance. It ought to be newsworthy, to put it mildly, when the President announces that he has the power to violate the law at will. But in another sense, it's not really newsworthy any longer. It's been going on for years and we've chosen to do nothing about it. We have a Government where the President is not bound by the law, and it is just as simple as that.
i swear, i put up these posts and, as i read them over, it feels like some kind of extra-grim groundhog day - pounding the same drum, over and over and over... Submit To Propeller