Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Time for an adversarial Congress

As Glenn Greenwald noted, with the resignation of Bush loyalist Alberto Gonzales from the position of Attorney General, Congressional Democrats have an opportunity and an obligation to help put an end to the lawlessness of the current administration and change our Department of Justice back into an agency that enforces the laws of this nation as opposed to being a political arm of the White House.

Mr. Greenwald seemed to take it for granted that Republican members of Congress would rubber stamp whatever replacement nominee Bush names, and rightly so, since they most likely will unless Bush nominates a candidate as transparent as Harriet Miers.

But I still have to wonder, is there not some since of civic responsibility left in the Republican Senate? Is there not some small corner of their mind that still cares about American democracy more than partisan political advantage? (and one can even wonder what advantage there is in sticking with such an unpopular president.)

Upon leaving, Gonzales said that, "Public service is honorable and noble. I am profoundly grateful to President Bush for his friendship and for the many opportunities he has given me to serve the American people."

For this torture white-washing political lackey who would be J.P. Morgan's dream come true to say such a thing is an insult and a mockery to public service ... Gonzales never served the American people ... he served as a private vassal to President Bush. That is where his fealty lied, and that is the reason why Bush stood behind him no matter how many times it has been demonstrated that Gonzales lied to Congress about some scandal or another.

Really, what we have seen is the accelerated transformation of government under the "compassionate conservative" rule of President Bush from a democratic system back into a kind of quasi neo-feudal system with federal employees expected to behave as if they are partisans of a Royal court, as evidenced by Gonzales orchestrating the firing of DOJ officials for not being sufficiently loyal to the White House rather than any performace related problems.

Yet as bad as the parting comments of Gonzales were, they are nothing compared to those offered by President Bush

After months of unfair treatment that has created a harmful distraction at the Justice Department, Judge Gonzales decided to resign his position, and I accept his decision. It's sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons.
How can anyone in Congress - Democrat or Republican - take this hubris from the President? It is clear from these comments that he holds our entire system of government in contempt, that he holds Congress in contempt, and that he holds the American people in contempt.

These are the words not of the highest ranking public servant in the nation, but of a spoiled tyrant, angered that his will is not being carried out to his satisfaction. There was bipartisan frustration in Congress with the lies and politicization of the Justice Department by Gonzales, yet Bush has the audacity to suggest that those who quesiton the corruption of our Executive branch are creating a "harmful distraction" and preventing Gonzales from doing "good work."

What is so insulting about the President's words is that he has absolutely no shame. No matter how corrupt or wrong he is demonstrated to be he still accuses anyone who questions him of being partisan. This President cares not at all what anyone, be it the public, or Congress, or the Judiciary think ... whatever he personally wants is right and anyone who stands in the way of that is just being political. Laws don't matter, the Constitution doesn't matter - nothing matters except that people do what our infallible demi-god-in-Chief George W. Bush wants.

And why shouldn't he think like that? He has lived his whole life getting by on his father's name and wealth and the wealth of family friends. He has had the benefit of a servile Congress for almost the entirety of his presidency no matter how many lies he tells or how many scandals occur (the fraudulent case for war with Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Walter Reed, Katrina, failure to prevent 9/11, NSA spying, DOJ firings, leaking of Plame's identity, billions of dollars gone unaccounted for in Iraq, global warming reports being rewritten by shill for the oil industy, etc.) the President still more of less gets his way and continues to act as if this nation owes him blind allegiance.

This nation's founding fathers held an Enlightenment belief that government could be shaped so as to draw out from man's vices (e.g. ambition, jealousy, pride, lust for power, and such) democratic virtues. But for that to happen those in government must be held accountable for their actions and the system of checks and balances must be maintained.

Perhaps this Congress could benefit from reading what was one of the greatest influences on the founders - Cato's Letters, particularly, #33 "Cautions Against the Natural Encroachment of Power"

Power, without control, appertains to God alone; and no man ought to be trusted with what no man is equal to. In truth there are so many passions, and inconsistencies, and so much selfishness, belonging to human nature, that we can scarce be too much upon our guard against each other. The only security which we can have that men will be honest, is to make it their interest to be honest; and the best defence which we can have against their being knaves, is to make it terrible to them to be knaves. As there are many men wicked in some stations, who would be innocent in others; the best way is to make wickedness unsafe in any station.
Congress needs to make it terrible for President Bush to continue acting like a knave. It's time for an adversarial Congress.

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