The Imperial Presidency

The irony on this is as thick as cold molasses on a December morning. Obama’s approval ratings are in the Bush range now – and yet, there seems to be no consensus among the “progressive” punditocracy that his presidency is over as there was for W. I ran across this little nugget today:

“Why is Washington still holding hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, long after years of interrogation and abuse have established that few, if any, of them are the deadly terrorists they have been held out to be?

And why is [the President] still issuing grandiose and provocative signing statements, the latest of which claims that the executive branch has the power to open mail when it sees fit?

I once believed that the common thread here is presidential blindness — an extreme executive-branch myopia that leads the chief executive to believe that these futile measures are integral to combating terrorism; a self-delusion that precludes Bush and his advisers from recognizing that [Anas al Libi] is a chump and Guantanamo Bay is just a holding pen for a jumble of innocent or half-guilty wretches.”

I did make a couple of changes to update it – because that is from an op-ed piece by Dalia Lithwick about Bush from the Washington Post on January 14, 2007. Find the whole miserable, tortured thing here. It is cowering in the dark recesses of the Internet like Golem, whispering in an anguished voice, “My PRECIOUS, my PRECIOUS…”

In light of the actions of President Obama, the headline of Lithwick’s screed – “The Imperial Presidency” – now reads as if it were satire. She continues:

“Bush administration insiders told Mayer that Addington and Cheney had been “laying the groundwork” for a vast expansion of presidential power long before 9/11. And in 2002, the vice president told ABC News that the presidency was “weaker today as an institution because of the unwise compromises that have been made over the last 30 to 35 years.” Rebuilding that presidency has been their goal for decades.

The image of Addington scrutinizing “every bill before President Bush signs it, searching for any language that might impinge on Presidential power,” as Mayer puts it, can be amusing, sort of like the mother of the bride obsessing over a tricky seating chart. But this zeal to restore an all-powerful presidency traps the Bush administration in its own worst legal sinkholes. This newfound authority — to maintain a disastrous Guantanamo Bay, to stage rights-free tribunals and to hold detainees forever — is the kind of power that Richard M. Nixon could have only dreamed about, and cannot be let go.

In a heartbreaking letter from Guantanamo Bay last week, published in the Los Angeles Times, inmate Jumah al-Dossari writes: “The purpose of Guantanamo is to destroy people, and I have been destroyed.” I fear he is wrong. The destruction of Dossari, Padilla, Zacarias Moussaoui, Yasser Esam Hamdi and some of our most basic civil liberties was never a purpose or a goal — it was a byproduct. The true purpose is more abstract and more tragic: to establish a clunky post-Watergate dream of an imperial presidency, whatever the human cost may be.”

So where is that righteous anger from the left today? On wonders just what does Dahlia think about the subject of the most imperial presidency since FDR?


22 thoughts on “The Imperial Presidency

  1. This is one of the clearest and strongest pieces of evidence that the “media” have been acting as an arm of the Democrat Party/Progressive Left that we could ever hope to receive. The only reason we can’t use it to make our case is because the schools are under an even tighter Progressive grip — so much so that about the only thing coming out of them now are government-loving drones. And yes, sadly, in spite of my best efforts, I have to count my kids among that number — though they do still poses a spark of defiance…

  2. “So where is that righteous anger from the left today?”

    Utah, I suspect that you don’t generally read anything not produced by conservative media, and you obviously aren’t looking very hard when you ask such a silly question:

    Though the anger for many of us isn’t all that new, as you should know from my previous comments here, or by a quick Google search.

  3. Dr. James,

    Do you think that Huffpo and the Atlantic , or even your own blog, get the viewership of ABC, NBC, PBS, CBS, or even CNN.
    Today, Chuck Todd seemed to be asking some tough questions, but it was basically, “Who misled the president?”
    No question about how could this supposedly brilliant man have so lost control, but more of who’s gonna get fired.

    There is no accountability, when there is a compliant media, totally skeptical of only one side, and constantly asking “How does this affect the president?”
    Until the MSM begins asking some hard questions( you know, something tougher than “what’s your favorite color?”), and treating the Imposter in Chief like they did NIXON, it’s just going on into the tank.
    The president was quoted as qnting to cause as much pain as possible to the largest number of Americans. That would have played for days if it was Bush, or any Republican.
    Of course, this is all just the opinion of an “enemy of the state”

    • “Do you think that Huffpo and the Atlantic , or even your own blog, get the viewership of ABC, NBC, PBS, CBS, or even CNN”

      No (though Huffpo is one of the 10 most-read news websites), but my blog post linked to two stories from the New York Times, one from Reuters, one from the Guardian and a couple from Slate, among others. And a quick Google search shows this from CNN: and this from ABC:

      On the other hand, I agree with you that the mainstream media — especially television — tend to be almost worthless, focusing on inane crap that has little real effect on most of our lives. And that has been true for a long time. They didn’t ask Bush tough questions, either, even if they criticized him. If they had, we probably wouldn’t have ended up in the Iraq War.

      And of course Fox News is “skeptical of only one side,” which is why they end up running fake stories about Obama funding Muslims out of his own pocket and why Sean Hannity “interviews” three couples about Obamacare — only later to have it revealed that none of the couples have any experience with it.

      • “And of course Fox News is “skeptical of only one side,” which is why they end up running fake stories about Obama funding Muslims out of his own pocket”

        Not to defend Fox News, but I admit I find this a curious statement. Is it one that you can defend with a source? If so, I bet some of Obama’s attorneys, whom love lawsuits, would be most interested in.

        Thanks in advance, McPherson.

          • I have to admit, that is pretty funny. Typical though? Is that as in “typical like MSDNC, CNN, NBC” type typical, or are you saying that Fox News has a history of grossly more redactions than the others?

            • “Fox News has a history of grossly more redactions than the others?”

              Not necessarily. I honestly don’t keep close track because I think ALL television news is “typically” pretty worthless. Both Fox & CNN got the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision flatly wrong, and CNN blew it with the Boston bombing, among numerous other errors.

              • I have to admit, my life has been a lot better since turning off the boob-tube. Of course Fox has a part in that, but the television is decidedly slanted towards the crazy fu**ing liberals.

    • “The president was quoted as qnting to cause as much pain as possible to the largest number of Americans.”

      I’d love for you to show me the quote. But it sounds like a Limbaugh or Beck fiction to me.

      And as for you being an “enemy of the state,” I think that’s simply grandiose posing — as I’ve noted before, I can’t imagine that “the state” cares much about you one way or the other, and as long as your actions are limited to anonymous posts on conservative blogs, you don’t seem to pose much of a threat.

      • It is the public posture of your party (DEM) LEADERSHIP to declare in the most emphatic terms possible that Tea Party Conservatives are “Enemies of the State”
        1. Rep. Steve Cohen (D) Tenn. , we take an oath to support the country against all enemies foreign and domestic, and these are the domestic enemies.”On MSNBC talking about Tea Party Conservatives (actually the oath is to support and defend the Constitution, but then he may not have really been paying attention)

        2. White house advisor Dan Pfeiffer “It is not a negotiation if I show up at your house and say, ‘Give me everything inside or I’m going to burn it down.’ The Republicans have provided a laundry list of essentially ransom demands,” he noted. (Negotiations, hmmm… like the Democrats negotiated healthcare?)

        3. Harry Reid , “Senate Democrats have shown that we are willing to debate and vote on a wide range of issues, including efforts to improve the Affordable Care Act. We continue to be willing to debate these issues in a calm and rational atmosphere. But the American people will not be extorted by Tea Party anarchists.”[which is interesting, as he is the one who will not permit anyone’s budget to come to the floor, not even one submitted by Obama, CR’s are now HIS norm(kind of anti government?)]

        4. Mr. Obama “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies, and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us’ — if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election — then I think it’s going to be harder. And that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2nd.” (So political opponents are enemies)

        Now all of this rhetoric is working, if only among Mr. Obama’s supporters

        A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 51% of Likely U.S. Voters consider radical Muslims to be the bigger threat to the United States today. Thirteen percent (13%) view the Tea Party that way, and another 13% consider other political and religious extremists to be the larger danger. Six percent (6%) point to local militia groups. Two percent (2%) see the Occupy Wall Street movement as the bigger terrorist threat.

        However, among those who approve of the president’s job performance, just 29% see radical Muslims as the bigger threat. Twenty-six percent (26%) say it’s the Tea Party that concerns them most. Among those who Strongly Approve of the president, more fear the Tea Party than radical Muslims.

        As for those who disapprove of Obama’s performance, 75% consider radical Muslims to be the bigger terrorist threat. Just one percent (1%) name the Tea Party.

        YOUR party(D) has convinced the zombies that the Tea Party is as big a threat as Radical Islam.
        My question to you …..How long do you think it will take for the 26% to decide it needs to take physical action against The Tea Party?
        If these comments were made by Republican leadership, you would be screaming about incendiary comments leading to acts of violence. Actually the media has done so for less flammable language.
        So …. do I feel threatened? I carry…. ALWAYS.
        Do I think Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi is going to pull into my driveway and arrest me? NO, but all they really have to do is rile enough of their dependents to the boiling point, and Bam!
        The left has continuously used the radical rhetoric to incite against Conservative thought. No problem, but, it seems they can’t deal with even the slightest opposition,with out going (verbally )ballistic.
        Now , sir. Dig through this, find an error and harp on a small point, ignoring all else.

        • “It is the public posture of your party (DEM) LEADERSHIP…”

          Sorry, Ralph, but the Dems aren’t my party. As any regular reader of the RNL should know, I didn’t vote for Obama in the last election, and I’ve voted for a split ticket in every major election since 1976. I doubt that you can say the say.

          “you would be screaming about incendiary comments leading to acts of violence”

          I challenge you to find one example of me doing so, here, on my own blog, or elsewhere. I’m more of a First Amendment absolutist than perhaps anyone else here.

          “all they really have to do is rile enough of their dependents to the boiling point, and Bam!”

          Reid and Pelosi supporters aren’t the ones packing all the guns. 😉

          And by the way, polls (esp. one-shot polls) are pretty limited in accurately judging anything — and the conservative Rasmussen polls are among the least useful:

  4. Reid and Pelosi supporters aren’t the ones packing all the guns. 😉
    Actually, from the mug shots I’ve been seeing a lot of, Obama , Reid and Pelosi get a lot of support from the “illegal gun” carriers.

    “and I’ve voted for a split ticket in every major election since 1976. I doubt that you can say the say”

    True, I can’t say I’ve voted a split ticket in EVERY election since 1964, but more often than not. I even voted for Clinton, first time around. If the Democrat can get it done, They get my vote. Especially in local elections
    The partisan nature of things has changed quite a bit as the D and R have really only surface differences. The establishment or hierarchy or leadership of both parties has moved further left as the years roll by. The D’s want to run off the cliff at 200 mph, and the R’s would rather take the 50 mph approach. Either way , we’re over the edge.
    It’s strange how any R who took the same position in 2013 regarding debt ceiling negotiations as Senators Obama and Reid took in 2006 are suddenly, in their eyes “anarchists and enemies.” of this country.Strange.But predictable

    As far as split tickets are concerned, keeping one party from total power is (in my mind) a good thing.. A thing to fear is President Obama with both houses in his pocket and the media carrying his water.

    And my insignificance aside, I bet many who thought themselves beneath notice, were surprised when investigated by the IRS, or Attorney General or NSA etc.
    Everyone seems to think that tyranny happens overnight, and doesn’t see that it is a process that needs to be fought, constantly.

    As for your past posts, I usually get distracted by your schoolyard name calling and denigration of those with whom you disagree(see your response to my posts above)

    • “I usually get distracted by,,,”

      Is that why you forgot to provide the source for the quote I asked for, about Obama supposedly wanting to inflict pain on as many folks as possible? 😉 Surely it’s not just because that quote came just from the imagination of right-wingers?

  5. Of course there’s no direct quote, Mr Obama may be hateful and vindictive, but he ain’t stoooooopid.
    Having said that , do you suppose that park rangers just decided on their own to barricade an open air memorial( for which action they actually had to hire extra security staff) , to keep veterans out, or to blockade the parking lot of a restaurant that was adjacent to a park, or to keep a couple in their 70’s out of their home because a park surrounded it? Do you also think the tooth fairy will give you money for your false teeth?
    What he did say was
    “But here’s the problem. What you’ve seen are bills that come up wherever Republicans are feeling political pressure, they put a bill forward. And if there’s no political heat, if there’s no television story on it, then nothing happens.” So what can we take from this ….. well no pain….no heat.
    So no death benefits for dead soldiers……until it becomes a PR nightmare, then suddenly the President springs into action. Except Congress had already passed, and the president signed the Pay our Military act to carry through the shutdown. Then nitpicked the wording until Fisher House picked up the tab and shamed the Administration into doing the right thing.

    My dad always said “Action speaks louder than words” President Obama’s actions scream “Feel the pain of my being pissed off”
    A quote, NO….Not on tape. Just look at the list of crap he put into the fan.

    Defend him all you want, but he is a petty, vindictive, little, excuse for a man.

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