Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tony Snow: Executive Branch Can Do Whatever It Wants And Congress Can Do Nothing About It

Snow's quotation today:

The executive branch is under no compulsion to testify to Congress, because Congress in fact doesn't have oversight ability.
Markos at The Daily Kos notes that it's

the cleanest elucidation of the "fuck you Congress" theory Bush has operated under the past 6 years.

Josh Marshall thinks the administration is gambling that they can tie up ALL Congressional oversight of the executive in court for the next two years by claiming executive privilege:

Quite a few people have speculated over whether Tony Snow really meant to say that Congress had no right or ability to conduct oversight of the executive branch. The claim is belied by the US constitution and all US history down to the present day. But I strongly suspect that it was no accident, slip of the tongue or loosely general statement the White House won't stand behind.

The simple truth, I think, is that there's too much criminality waiting to be uncovered.

In the US Attorney purge, yes. But that's only the start of it.

The only and perhaps the best approach for the White House is to fight what in military terms you might call a forward engagement, gumming up the very concept and premise of oversight itself in the courts for long enough to wait out the clock. That's what this is about.

I think that's exactly right.

Truly amazing. Bush has finally thrown down the gauntlet, believing he still has enough supporters in the Senate, and has packed the courts thoroughly enough, that he can escape consequences. That was his mode of operation before 2000, and he doesn't know better than to count on it now.

Were I he, I wouldn't count on my 'friends' coming to my aid in a Constitutional crisis -- many were only there for as long as he could still slather them with patronage plum jelly, and most of the politicos who support him have future elections to worry about. If it starts to stink in his vicinity, he'll be as welcome as a skunk at a BBQ, and people who were cheering him on last month won't remember his name. His getting into a fight with Congress might be the only thing that could scotch the proposed presidential library at SMU -- and I would LAUGH and LAUGH and...
You are absolutely right about this, kicksiron. They're playing it tough, trying to keep their GOP Rubber Stampers with them, but it won't take much to have all the rats abandon ship. If the Congress can get their hands on the Gap Emails from November 15-December 4 or if Kyle Sampson isn't bought off BEFORE his Congressional testimony, that just might do it. Even so, as more and more allegations surface about Rove looking to, in Andrew Sullivan's words, "get pliant new U.S. attorneys to prosecute Democrats in battleground states before the next election," I think more and more rats will jump ship.
I think that's exactly right.

No...not so sure. So far there is no constitutional crisis...not yet. The crisis will come when DoJ refuses to proceed on the contempt of congress charges that are sure to follow Bu$hCo's refusal to honor subpoenas.

Oversight is not a constitutional issue, as it's clearly spelled out in the Constitution. The issue is legislation that deals with how the executive (i.e., DoJ) is supposed to deal with congressional contempt charges.
If Bush has any sense, he will fold his tent before the House decides the only way to deal with him is to impeach. Unlike a criminal trial where the prosecutor only argues the most serious charge and that, involving only a single event, an impeachment involves presenting a bill of particulars, where the prosecutor can argue a list of charges covering every smarmy act the defendant has participated in since he started shaving. Bush should know better than to dare facing that sort of inquiry. Far better to sacrifice Gonzales or even King Karl than to have six years of dirty laundry hanging on the line for week after week for all to see.

My bet is that his obstinance will collapse as soon as Congress rolls up its sleeves preparing for a fight.
Kicksiron, unless they really get a smoking gun showing the preznut took part in serious criminal activity, I just don't think this Congress is ever going to go down the impeachment road. I think Dems learned from the Clinton impeachment. Impeachment HELPED Clinton, as many Americans seemed to think the Repubs move to impeach him was overreaching. Listening to Pelosi and Hoyer on this, I think they are aware that a move to impeach would backfire at this point. That's not to say that things couldn't change as we learn more about administration activity, of course. But I get the feeling that the admin is going to do its best to tie everything up in court for a few years and just run out the clock on the investigations.

kvatch, while you're correct in what you say, I'm not so sure this preznut and his minions actually accept every thing clearly spelled out in the constitution!
I'm not so sure this preznut and his minions actually accept every thing clearly spelled out in the constitution!

Well that's certainly true. Probably the only way to get Bu$hCo to heel is to slap them with a Supreme Court ruling saying "Bad...bad president!"
Or maybe irons and handcuffs.
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