Sunday, December 23, 2007

The candidates speak (finally) on the limits of presidential power

"The sleeper issue in this campaign involves the proper scope of executive power," said Richard Epstein, a University of Chicago law professor.

Other than Chris Dodd, the current crop of candidates have been distressingly quiet about the Constitution and Bush administration's grab for presidential power in excess of constitutional limits. It's a vital topic, because the current resident has shown a profound lack of respect for US law, and has a dangerously overinflated idea about his power as president. This whole trend has been insufficiently addressed in the current presidential campaign. It's been of concern to me, and is an issue that could tip my vote.

It's also why despite my general inclination toward Edwards, Dodd keeps grabbing my attention. He's on it, like no one else.

I've long believed that if the next president does not clearly repudiate the current trend, the anti-constitutional flavor of this administration will be locked into place for the foreseeable future. It's a worrisome thing.

For that reason, I'm quite pleased to see the Boston Globe article by Charlie Savage that asks all the right questions about presidential power and the authority granted by the Constitution. These are the kinds of questions that should have been asked of Bush and Cheney in 2000. To the best of my recollection, no one asked, and they independently didn't offer up their opinions on the issue. Imagine that.

Savage poses a set of essential questions to all the leading candidates, and their answers cover the spectrum from Dodd to Romney (hint: if you like Dick Cheney, you will love Mitt Romney).

Huckabee and Thompson refused to answer the questions, which in my world, disqualifies them from the presidency. Period. Giuliani refused to answer, but provided a statement about balancing "order and liberty" which was written by former Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson.

Bzzzzzzzt! Disqualified!

Ron Paul had good answers, but he's disqualified anyway because this is one of the very few topics where he doesn't bask in a wingnutty glow.

McCain gave the best answers from the Republican field, but personally I trust him about as far as I can throw him. He talks the "I'm a moderate" talk, but he doesn't vote like one.

The Democrats, for the most part, gave answers that came down on the side of the Constitution rather than increased presidential power. Frankly, I was not thrilled with Edwards' answers because instead of making strong, declarative statements about his own interpretation of the law, he framed it all around what Bush is doing wrong. I want to say to him, "yes I KNOW what Bush has done wrong, but what are you going to do right?"

Sigh....I like Edwards in so many ways, but sometimes he's such a politician.

Go read the article! It's important stuff. And whatever you do, don't vote for that scary Mitt Romney. He'll just be so disappointed if he gets elected, and belatedly discovers the job doesn't come with a crown.



Blogger My Mobile Notary said...

You didn't mention Dennis Kucinich, who is clear about his views on the Constituion and the power of the presidency. You can view his views on many topics here:

12/23/2007 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

True. True. Thank you for adding the link to the Kucinich campaign. Just goes to show you how seriously (answer: not very) the media takes him, in that he wasn't even included in the article.

12/23/2007 01:47:00 PM  

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