The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, June 25, 2007

Dick II: Much Worse than the Original

The big news of the day is, of course, the latest example of blatant disregard for the rule of law to come out of this administration. I can still remember the blissful early years of the Bush presidency, when I just missed his intelligent and sane father. Then I started feeling my own Reagan nostalgia, questionable mental capacity and crime-enabling as those days were. At least his administration backed off of some of their nutty positions when they were proven to be nutty. Now I find myself feelin' the lurv for Richard Nixon, who seems positively progressive in contrast to today's Republicans. To be fair, I've always stood by Nixon to a degree because he did some genuinely good things for the nation. I wasn't even around for Watergate, but seems like an absolute breath of fresh air compared to the unprecedented bar-lowering of today's GOP.

So here's a slew of articles on Scandal #87, or whatever it is: Dick Cheney's blatantly self-contradicting, almost certainly illegal, unquestionably unethical, and profoundly un-American claims to the privileges of the executive and legislative branches of our government-- without having to adhere to the rules governing either.

Kevin Drum writes about Dick's current claims that the office of the VP isn't part of the executive branch. Now, anyway. [B]ack in February when this story was first reported, Cheney wasn't arguing that the VP's office wasn't executive. He was arguing that the VP's office was both legislative and executive, and thus could ignore the rules of either branch whenever it suited him. So here's my question: If a quantum superposition of a dead cat and a live cat is Schrödinger's Cat, is a quantum superposition of legislative Cheney and executive Cheney Schrödinger's Dick?

Grabbing most blog headlines today is the ongoing series by the WaPo that looks into Dick's abuses of power, from the president's apparent status as Cheney's bitch (first installment) to his willingness to redefine laws as whatever he wants them to mean (second installment) while making sure the public doesn't know a thing about it.

The articles are long and terrifying, but certainly leave one wondering what all the fuss was about Nixon. I remember those conservative friends and relatives who fancy themselves to be discriminating intellectuals dismissing Bush in an offhanded way in 2000, claiming that they were really voting for Cheney-- the smart one. My personal favorite example of his genius would be then-Representative Cheney's support for making plastic handguns and armor-piercing bullets commercially available. Unimaginable these days, isn't it? And a solid 180 for a man now committed to the creation of a police state.

Wingers, naturally, are pretty hard-pressed to come up with justifications for this one, but they're sticking to the old standbys:

Hack-to-the-bitter-end Bill Kristol is on the front line with the "Shuck 'n Jive" defense: Kristol said the exemptions for the president and vice president were “reasonable enough.” He called it “a pain in the neck” to have “some bureaucrat” from the National Archives “come and inspect your safe to see whether you’re locking it up properly each night.” But Juan Williams delivered a beatdown, and there's video at the link.

The National Review's Mark Levin goes with the "Much Ado About Nothing" line: Rather than arguing that the vice president, as president of the Senate, is exempt from coverage, I would have argued that this is a purely internal executive branch issue.

White House Spokesmonkey Dana Perino channels Nathan Thurm with a "Sorry, This Isn't My Table" exchange today:

Reporter: What is the White House's view of the argument the vice president is making on whether or not he's part of the executive branch?

Perino: I'm not opining on it, because the president did not intend for the vice president to be subject as an agency in that section of the E.O.

Reporter: Those are entirely different arguments. So you don't support the vice president's theory ...

Perino: I'm not opining on it either way.

Reporter: But, Dana, how could the vice president earlier in the administration argue he didn't have to turn over records about the energy task force, for example, because he was a member of the executive branch?

Perino: Ask the Supreme Court.

Reporter: He clearly stated that.

Perino: You could ask the Supreme Court, who ruled in his favor.

Reporter: But he did not say, "I'm a member of the legislative branch as well, so I don't have to" -- I mean, he clearly stated that there was strong executive power and he didn't have to turn over these records. Now, when it suits his interests, he seems to be saying a different legal argument.

Perino: Look, I'm not a legal scholar. And there's plenty of them that you can find in Washington, D.C.

I don't know how this is Bill Clinton's fault, I'm sure some enterprising reactionary will come up with something.