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Michael Roston Headshot

It's So Hard To Be A Unitary Executive These Days

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It would appear that the lamest of the lame duckedness at the end of any President's second term is already creeping into the White House's official pronouncements.

President Bush yesterday phoned in a "presidential signing statement," one of the acts by which the president claims he can ignore passages of legislation passed by Congress:

The Act contains certain provisions identical to those found in prior bills passed by the Congress that might be construed to be inconsistent with my Constitutional responsibilities (sections 8005, 8009, 8012(b), 8034(b), 8052, 8082, 8085, 8089, 8091, and 8116, and the provision concerning consolidation under the heading "Operation and Maintenance, Defense Wide"). To avoid such potential infirmities, I will interpret and construe such provisions in the same manner as I have previously stated in regard to those provisions.

I guess W. is tired of throwing his weight around as the "unitary executive" who can do no wrong.

Back in the day, we could imagine President Bush, or rather this lawyers (make that Dick Cheney's lawyers) going line by line through each piece of legislation and saying which parts of it he would and would not ignore, and explaining precisely why. But with his case of senioritis advancing, the president can't even be bothered now.

When you read "as I have previously stated," you can instead imagine him as a 16 year old whose mother has just asked him to clean his room.

"Again!?" he whines.

And we know that all those legislative provisions stuffed under his supreme presidential bed will come spilling out once again next autumn when the president has to sign the very last of his defense spending bills.

Please, Mister President. If you're going to thumb your nose at the Constitution, for everybody's sake, go all the way with it. A display like this one makes it seem like even you are no longer serious in arguing that your administration can do whatever it wants whenever it wants.