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The Cynicism of the Commentariat?

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Andrew Bard Schmookler     Permalink
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Even Obama's friends in the commentariat --including Keith Olbermann, and two of his major allies, Chris Hayes of THE NATION and Howard Fineman of NEWSWEEK-- are speaking of Obama and his relationship to the issue of presidential power in a way that I find most cynical, and I certainly hope is mistaken.

The situation under discussion the past couple of days is that it is reported that Obama pushed hard for this deal between Rove and Congress on his testifying.

The reason these pro-Obama commentators give for his wanting this deal is that it prevents him from having to go into Court and either a) backing the Bushite idea of executive privilege --which was a scandal! or b) cooperating in rolling back BUsh's expansions of presidential powers.

Each one of these guys posits that all presidents, Democratic and Republican, want those powers for themselves, and so find option (b) unappealing.

Good Lord! You'd think that becoming president means putting on Frodo's Ring (which was Smeagol's ring). "My precious, my precious," these guys have Obama saying, in effect. Power as an intoxicant.  None can resist its seductions.

I sure hope they're wrong about Obama. If he's the man I think he is, then he wants the office of the president to have the powers given it in the Constitution, and the long-standing traditions of the workings of checks and balances. If he's the man I believe him to be, he'd feel he'd be losing nothing to have "executive privilege" cut back to what was good enough for the presidents before Bush.
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Because that claim was one that an honorable man, having taken an oath to defend and protect the Constitution, would never WANT to exercise in any case. To use that privilege, as Bush has, is simply to refuse to recognize the authority of the other branches of the government.

So what the hell does it mean that these progressive voices --who have done such a great job in exposing the depredations of the BUshites in recent years-- can just blithely ASSUME, without any apparent evidence, that OF COURSE a president would not want to go into court and say, no, "executive privilege" does not allow people like Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to just give the finger to a duly issued Congressional subpoena?

What does it mean that these guys are so quick to assume and accept that Obama would exert himself to get a settlement, rather than send in his DOJ to join the Congress in declaring that such subpoena's are obligatory on the likes of Rove in an instance of this sort, where a Congressional committee is in pursuit of a vital national issue, and in oversight of an executive that seems to have abused its powers in a systematic way?

Whether they're right or wrong about Obama, it seems remarkable --and disturbing-- that they'd just ASSUME and ACCEPT that Of Course a president would be loath to relinquish the usurpatious powers his predecessor claimed against precedent and the Constitution!
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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)

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