April 01, 2006

More Statist Insanity

I didn't title this post "More Republican Insanity" mostly out of respect for the few (very few) moderate Republicans who continue to believe in the Constitution, checks and balances, and responsible government. I figure there have to be a few of them out there, somewhere. I can't find any (except me, and possibly John Cole), but there might be a few more.

The Senate Judiciary Committee opened hearing yesterday into Feingold's censure resolution. This was reported today in the New York Times. The Republicans called for the hearings, mostly in order to rally their base and showcase how their President is under attack by the evil Democrats (so evil that a massive four, yes four, Senators have signed onto Feingold's censure resolution).

I'm not in favor of censure. I think the proper role for Congress with respect to the wireless NSA spying is to actually investigate (with subpoenas) exactly what the NSA did, when they did it, who ordered it, and who knew about it. This needs to be accompanied by an actual debate in the Senate over whether the NSA program does violate the FISA law (my opinion: absolutely yes). Then the Congress can recommend charges for those individuals who violated the law, up to the President, if necessary.

Feingold, on the other hand, is skipping all those investigatory steps, and just jumping to censure Bush. This may be too much (if he isn't guilty of anything) or too little (he may be guilty of sufficient law-breaking to warrant something stronger, up to impeachment).

That being said, check out this passage from the NYT article, including a quote from Senator Cornyn:

Republicans argued that censure would undermine the president's efforts to fight terrorism.
"This hearing, I think, is beyond the pale," said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.
Mr. Cornyn argued that the censure proposal could send a "perverse and false message" of presidential weakness to terrorists around the world and thus "make the jobs of our soldiers and diplomats harder and place them at greater risk."

Yes, that's right: we can't even have hearings to discuss whether the President has done anything wrong because it would weaken the President's fight against terrorism (note: not "America's fight aginst terrorism" or "civilization's fight against terrorism" or "our armed forces fight against terrorism"; no, the fight is personal between Bush and the terrorists - he's the only one protecting us, and we can't weaken him, else we'll loose. Orwell?). Exactly when did it happen that anything, anything, that challenges the executive branch "weakens the President"? A partial list of actions that challenge the President's policies (and, thus, "weaken" the fight against terrorism, and should be avoided) would include: Congressional hearings, Congressional debate that questions the policies, Congressional laws that suggest/order alternative policies, judicial court cases that challenge the President's decisions, court cases that challenge the President's asserted facts, public protests, public discussion that includes a challenge to the President's policies, letters to the editor that challenge the policies, public opinion polls that show a lack of support for the President (thus, having an opinion that the President's policies are wrong, since you might get polled, is also wrong, as it "weakens" the President), media reports that indicate a lack of support for the President, media reports that question the successes of the "War on Terror", media reports that mention setbacks in Iraq, media reports that mention setbacks in Afghanistan, media reports of any terrorist/insurgent successes in any part of the world, blogging about the sheer idiocy of the policies against terrorism practiced by this President (oops, guilty!), and (as best I can tell) any discussion of the inherent checks and balances in the Constitution and the inherent limitations on the Executive (hey, any originalists out there? How does all this fit into your mental paradigms?). Note the inherent legality of any of these actions.

This is only a partial list. I suppose it might be much simpler to make a list of all the things Americans (Congressional, media, bloggers, general public, etc.) can do that won't undermine the Presidents (heroic, lonely) war on terror: twiddle thumbs, shop, and watch "American Idol." It's a much smaller list. In fact, as best I can tell, any political activity that disagrees with the President (on any subject, not just national security) will weaken the President (any disagreement would show weakness, and embolden the terrorists - even if he can't get his choice for Supreme Court, that would cause more terrorism!).

How did it come to this? What has happened the idea that, in a democracy, debate over policies (even in times of crisis) are not only important but critical (it's a crisis: shouldn't you make sure that the policy you follow is the best? Doesn't that require debate?). Isn't a national dialog healthy but also critical in generating a "national will" to carry through difficult policy implementation in times of crisis (think: World War II)? (NOTE: this assumes that we're in a crisis, which I don't believe, but I'm willing to accept for the point of arguing.)

As best I can tell, it shows a party utterly bereft of ideas, morality, courage, and intellectual integrity to be reduced to arguing the same line (again and again) to any political challenge to it's leadership: Don't argue, you'll weaken the President.

I don't see how the leadership of the Republican party, in any branch, can look at themselves in the mirror in the morning.

Posted by baltar at April 1, 2006 12:10 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Extremism | Free Speech | Liberty | Petty Rants | Politics | The Ever Shrinking Constitution


I dunno, twiddling thumbs might make it look like you were meditating, and we don't want any appearance of even remotely un-Christian activity lest we Undermine America's ResolveTM.

You, John Cole, and maybe George Will, but only a little bit and only lately. I'd say "me", but I no longer care to wear the elephant hat.

Posted by: jacflash at April 1, 2006 01:34 PM | PERMALINK

Will carried too much water for Bush for far too long to get any credence out of me.

I often wonder what can cause the sort of mass insanity seen in the Republican Party from 2000 to present.

Posted by: baltar at April 1, 2006 01:44 PM | PERMALINK

The powerful lust for power.

Posted by: binky at April 1, 2006 02:16 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm - Has Greg at Belgravia come over to your side? I haven't read his stuff lately, but he'd seem a possibility. The Cunning Realist is with you (I think he's a Republican), and every so often Sen. Hagel.

But as to the merits of censure - at least when it comes to the president, what type of investigation do you want exactly since it's my impression that the president has already admitted to doing what Feingold charges him with? And since it's abundantly clear that the Republicans who control investigatory authority won't launch an investigation, well, what could be done?

Posted by: Armand at April 1, 2006 06:14 PM | PERMALINK

Realistically, there won't be an in-depth investigation while Bush is in office, so I'll take censure on the strength of his confession.

But while reading this rant -- and Bravo!, Baltar -- I thought back to what I know of WWII, and all the audio I've heard of Churchill rallying his countrymen and -women, and the recordings I've heard of him facing Parliament and persuading them of the importance of this or that action with high-flown oratory and an honest to goodness willingness to engage and refute counterarguments. Even so, didn't he take flak as being sort of autocratic when the chips were down? Ditto, FDR?

Posted by: moon at April 2, 2006 10:25 AM | PERMALINK
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