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Ubiquitous Privilege

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Help me out here: which Woody Allen movie was it that depicted Allen's mother flying over Manhattan like the Goodyear blimp?

Well, lest you missed it yesterday, the Washington Post reports the White House has now decided to replace her. Check out their new and improved version of executive privilege which now allows for blanket of immunity for anyone the president takes under his wing to protect from contempt charges for refusing to testify before Congress. It's okay to defy Congress, the justice department, and who knows -- maybe even the Supreme Court as long as you do so while standing in the president's shadow, or so the administration now claims. This isn't your mother's executive privilege; indeed, this is executive privilege on human growth hormones, and renders justice impotent when it comes to prosecuting anyone who falls under the umbrella of the unitary chief.

Congressman Henry Waxman is right to suggest that the president might as well disband the justice department altogether, and save taxpayers' dollars. Some even suggest that this latest flexing of White House muscle "is saying the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all." (WaPo) Those who are astonished by this latest move to offer blanket protection to all those who play the game by White House rules are themselves rather astonishing. What have they been doing for the past few years, watching re-runs of Sex and the City? One has only to look at the protection from being charged with war crimes given to Mr. Bush and his cronies by the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which reversed the War Crimes Act of a decade earlier.

This notion of ubiquitous privilege, and broadband immunity applies to any and all who follow the president's commands to defy Congress by refusing to testify as we witnessed with White House aides, and former presidential counsel like Harriet Miers, is serious stuff. This is the stuff dictatorships are made of. One wonders if the unitary executive will next grant itself immunity from charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, as well as assert its overreach to entirely nullify whatever it wishes to nullify including Supreme Court rulings. This is one presidency whose hubris clearly knows no bounds.

Maybe it isn't an omnipotent Jewish mother that hovers over Manhattan like a bloated blimp, but a president who measures his circumference by the coattails that continue to elude him.