Friday, April 7, 2006

Trust Bush?

The president who has railed against leaks almost since the day he took office, we now learn, was the one behind the Plame leaks. That the party of limited government has produced a President with seemingly limitless powers should worry everyone regardless of political affiliation.

We are a country founded on the simple premise that no one branch of government may act without the explicit consent of the others. Each branch is specifically empowered with certain checks and balances on the other so that they stay in line. When the Executive Branch under Nixon went too far, Congress even passed laws (the FISA law, for starters) to explicitly limit the President’s surveillance powers. But because President Bush doesn’t believe in the law, he doesn’t follow it. Even more bizarre, when he signs laws, he has “signing statements” that let him say what he thinks the law means — even when it flies in the face of all legislative record to the contrary. (Remember the anti-torture law? Bush said it gives him the right to torture. Go figure.)

Josh calls this the Bush administration’s creeping monarchism. It just seems like simple disdain to me. Disdain for the law, disdain for the Constitution, disdain for the people. Everything I thought I knew about what made our country great: limited government, checks and balances to prevent unmitigated exercise of power, freedom of speech, basic Constitutional guarantees of due process… it’s hard to see where any of that fits in the Bush view of the USA today. Forget about policies — funding for programs can be restored. Tax cuts can be reversed (or not). Military priorities can be altered. But the credibility of an entire political system is on thinner ice than I think many realize. And without the courage of our convictions to back us up, our ability to lead by example in the rest of the world is criminally compromised.

I know there are Republicans (many friends of mine) who read this blog. I’m genuinely interested in hearing from you (publicly if you can, privately if you must): how do you reconcile President Bush’s actions with the conservative principles you hold dear? How do you square his actions with the foundation on which this country was built?

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