Friday, June 09, 2006

Greenwald AlmostAsks The Damn Question

In a post today that covers Arlen Specter's latest craven submission to the Bush/Cheney Doctrine of Supreme Executive Power, Glenn Greenwald actually comes close to saying what has been unsayable for A-list liberal bloggers.

Read the whole thing for Glenn's systematic destruction of Specter's plans to pardon everyone the President ever gave an order to just in case the order was technically illegal...but then Glenn writes this:
Excess attention on Specter's role in all of this should be avoided. As easy -- and as justifiable -- as it is to express contempt for Specter's inevitable, craven submission to the dictates of the Bush administration, it is also indisputably true that no Senator other than Russ Feingold has done more than Specter to keep the issues of the president's lawbreaking in the news and to prevent a quick sweeping under the rug by the administration of this scandal. Specter's constant complaints have at least kept reporters talking about these issues. If one wants to really attack Specter, one should first answer this question -- where are all the great, heroic Senate Democrats who are standing up to the administration on these issues in a way that Specter isn't? They don't exist. While Specter does nothing more than make some noise, at least he has been doing that.

And while Specter always falls obediently into line with the administration in the end, most Senators, of both parties, begin from that position, particularly with regard to matters of national security and executive power. Specter is the most vivid illustration of Congressional debasement, but he is hardly the only example. Anyone with doubts about that should go and review how the Democrats reacted to Sen. Feingold's introduction of an extremely mild resolution to simply censure the President for breaking the law.
As I've said several times before, to the great disinterest of all those partisan Dem bloggers who are happier assuming that a Democrat in the White House will do the right thing, we need to ask the damn question.
It is a simple question and one which is, at base, unfair. It is:

Will you, if elected, pledge to roll back the Bush vision of total Presidential executive power?

Its unfair because, if the answer is no, then the candidate - and I mean for President, Senator, Congresscritter, Governor, whatever - has to launch into an explanation of why he or she thinks Bush's vision of utter power vested in the Oval Office is a good idea. I can't see any Democrat (or Republicans for that matter) being able to carry that one off in a way that will do them any good at all. The soundbite quotes it would hand their political opposition would be devastating. If the answer is "yes" less explanation is required and the soundbites will all be about balance of power and the vision of the Founders - good PR stuff - and then the pressure is there to act as if they mean it.
There should be NO FREE RIDES on this. Every Dem candidate should be asked that question, first thing, and after they answer we progressives can make a decision about whether they deserve our support. The people cannot afford to blithely assume anything about their leaders anymore, especially given the way the Democrats on the Hill have lain down in surrender at Bush's power grab. We cannot just assume they would support a roillback. For all we can see, by their actions to date, most Hill Dems would take Bush's doctrine of presidential monarchy as a useful precedent if they themselves occupied the Oval Office!

As for the Republican prospective candidates - you can be dead certain they would take it as a useful precedent.

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