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Bush v. Checks and Balances

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Bush himself finally held a press conference today to outline his stance on the Attorney General scandal. His stance is essentially this: "Maybe there was some wrong-doing, but if you start investigatin' it, then you're guilty of partisanship. If you hand out subpoenas, I'll be sure to block 'em."

This is most troubling for me because this is essentially Bush thumbing his nose at us, the Congress and Democracy itself.

Here's what he actually said:

"If the Democrats truly do want to move forward and find the right information, they ought to accept what I proposed," Bush said. "If scoring political points is the desire, then the rejection of this reasonable proposal will really be evident for the American people to see."

Bush said he would aggressively fight in court any attempt to subpoena White House aides.

"If the staff of a president operates in constant fear of being hauled before congressional committees ... the president would not receive candid advice and the American people would be ill-served," he said. "I'm sorry the situation has gotten to where it's got, but that's Washington, D.C., for you. You know there's a lot of politics in this town."

Reading this scares the hell out of me and it should scare the hell out of you, too. The staff of a president and the president himself should operate in constant fear of being hauled before a congressional committee. That's pretty much what Congress is for, isn't it? I mean, aside from legislating, they're there at the pleasure of the population to provide oversight into the potential wrong-doing of any other branch of government. That's why they've been given powers of impeachment and oversight in the Constitution. Everyone should operate under the fear that if they do something wrong or illegal in their job that they will be held accountable. Public servants, who serve at the pleasure (or displeasure in Bush's case) of the people absolutely need to worry about what they say and do in the name of the American people.
And so for Bush to say that his people will talk to Congress but not under oath or in public, means that they are not confident in the legality of their dealings. It has nothing to do with the fear of losing "candor in advising the President" and it has everything to do with the fact that they've done something wrong.

All I can say is that I hope that Congress does go to the mat with Bush over this because I want every presidency, Republican or Democratic, to have as much transparency in their decision-making process as possible short of risking national security. And I want every Congress, regardless of majority, to have the ability to demand that transparency.

It seems to me to be the best way for Democracy for to thrive and it's no surprise to me that George Bush clearly disagrees with that philosophy.

This was cross-posted on my blog, "This Divided State".

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