Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Come back Constitution all is forgiven

You know the Bushistas are desperate when they appeal to the Constitution. Dan Froomkin quotes some grade A bullshit

Presidential confidante Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard about his "pet peeve": When people call Bush a lame duck.

"[H]e's not that lame. . . . Bush lacks popularity, but he has plenty of power. And he's committed to using it.

"Bush's power--indeed, any president's--comes from the Constitution, not from opinion polls or the number of months left in his White House tenure. He is commander in chief and architect of America's foreign policy. He can use his veto to shape or kill legislation. He can exploit the presidential megaphone to express his views and raise alarms, and his power to issue administrative decrees is significant as well.

Ohhh my. The delicious irony is that part (sadly I'm afraid not a large part) of Bush's record unpopularity was caused by his contempt for the Constitution. Remember 911 changed everything and the founders were, through no fault of their own, guilty of pre 911 thinking.

The first idiocy which struck me was the false dichotomy, an error in reasoning more common than any other error in reasoning or than any valid form of reasoning. As Barnes knows perfectly well, he can't assume that Presidential power is based either on the constitution or on popularity and months left. Of course, it is based in part on the constitution and in part on public opinion. Barnes knows this and knows that everyone knows this. He's just willing to say something which is obviously false in order to ... ??? well he must have his motives.

The claim that the Constitution determines Presidential power (which therefore doesn't depend on other things) would only be valid if the Constitution were completely unambiguous and obeyed by everyone. For a Bush confidant to make that assumption is truly wonderfully idiotic.

Barnes adds further idiocy by claiming that Presidential power is based on the constitution and not on popularity then writing "He can exploit the presidential megaphone to express his views and raise alarms," He can express his views, but he will only raise alarms if people care about them. Bush is the boy who cried wolf.

Then right after the bit about the constitution Barnes writes about a power which does not exist according to the Constitution "and his power to issue administrative decrees is significant as well." Such decrees are constitutional only if they are based on laws passed in congress (as noted by the Supreme court in Hamdan v Rumsfeld). The laws only leave room for interpretation if the congress writes them that way or if courts ignore the constitution. The second is not happening. The first was already discussed by Barnes.

According to the constitution, Bush is commander in chief of the armed forces. The claim that this makes him our commander (imperator in Latin) is the essence of Bush and Barnes' contempt for the Constitution. Finally Bush has the authority to conduct foreign policy with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Even when appealing to the Constitution, Barnes can't resist the temptation to ignore the actual text of the constitution.

This is not just anti republican it is also horrible rhetoric as underlines how totally false is his claim that the Presidents authority under the constitution doesn't depend on public opinion, but rather on the text.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Er, wasn't Bill Clinton towards the end of his term a "lame duck" because (according to Republicans) he had lost moral authority when Ken Starr showed he had engaged in some naughties with an intern?

This was despite the fact that Clinton's poll figures were stratospheric compared to the current Bush rating.

I suppose showing that Bush approved torture & illegal phone-tapping while thrashing the USA's world standing (not to mention passively letting an economic crisis come upon the coutnry) has no effect on his moral authority whatsoever.

Just as long as we're being consistent ...