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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

L'etat, c'est moi

The stunning constitutional power grab by King George is finally coming into full view with the revelation that the NSA spied on American citizens without worrying about the niceties of the Constitution.

The revelations reported by the New York Times also lay bare the spinelessness of the Republican Congress that has aided and abetted in the abdication of its authority as a co-equal branch of government. No wonder W violated his own policy of not commenting on the myriad legal woes surrounding the ethically challenged GOP and pronounced Tom DeLay innocent before a trial. That's what kings do, after all.

And it makes it all the more imperative that Samuel Alito and his deference to executive power not be named to the Supreme Court. Anyone who views congressional oversight of the executive branch as "congressional pilfering" is a dangerous threat to democracy.

The Bush philosophy of unbridled and unchecked executive authority is hardly unusual. After all Richard Nixon had a host of power grabs from secret bombing of Cambodia to domestic spying (by the NSA) to justifications for cutting off the investigation of a "third-rate burglary" as necessary to the national interest.

The difference then was a Congress willing to stand up for its constitutional perogatives and a Supreme Court that was unwilling to stick itself into the middle of politics. What was also different was an aggressive, watchdog press that took presidential abuse of power seriously.

It's somewhat heartening to see that the sleepy giant is slowly awakening from its slumber. But you also can't help but wonder what would have happened had the Time reported the story a year ago, with the nation deciding on choosing a new president. Or if had displayed appropriate skepticism about the WMD claims that apparently went from Ahmad Chalabi's mouth to Judy Miller's notebook.


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