The White House claims that the president’s claim of executive privilege overrules everything.
So basically the president is saying the Justice Department can’t do what Congress tells it to do once he’s proclaimed executive privilege. It’s a legalistic way of saying “Up Yours.”
A couple of thoughts come to mind. First, I’m trying to imagine the thermonuclear reaction this would have caused among the Republicans and the wingnutosphere if President Clinton — or any Democratic president, for that matter — had tried to assert this level of executive privilege. Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House would have been littered with the bloody remnants of exploded heads of Republicans and all the punditry who would proclaim that Mr. Clinton is a rogue and a charlatan and all sorts of other Victorian terms that they dredged up from the Newt Gingrich list of naughty words.
The second thought is that this, along with the Iraq war funding, will be the true test of the Democrats in the Senate and the Congress. If they don’t stand up and fight back with all the forces they can muster and make every attempt to win this battle, then there is little hope for them. All of the energy that they put in to winning the election in 2006 and all of the effort they’re putting in to winning back the White House and a larger majority in the House and Senate won’t mean anything.
It’s clear that Mr. Bush and his administration are calling out the Democrats — and anyone else who believes in the balance of power — to defend the role of Congress and its equal place in our nation. If they don’t rise to the challenge, we might as well just give up now and let the comfortable numbness of dictatorship and one-party rule lull us gently to our doom because we don’t deserve to have our republic any longer.
Read Glenn Greenwald’s detailed and eloquent discussion of this issue.
Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.