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Hullabaloo


Thursday, June 29, 2006

 
Whatever

by digby

Glenn Greenwald has a nice primer posted about the Supreme Court decision on Gitmo and executive power. He optimistically concludes:

...opponents of monarchical power should celebrate this decision. It has been some time since real limits were placed on the Bush administration in the area of national security. The rejection of the President's claims to unlimited authority with regard to how Al Qaeda prisoners are treated is extraordinary and encouraging by any measure. The decision is an important step towards re-establishing the principle that there are three co-equal branches of government and that the threat of terrorism does not justify radical departures from the principles of government on which our country was founded
.


Isn't it pretty to think so? Certainly some of the legal questions about presidential wartime powers seem to have been answered. But from a political standpoint, I'm with Atrios about the practical effect of this ruling:

My quick take is that it's certainly an important symbolic victory, but this administration's contempt for the law, the constitution, and the balance/separation of powers that our system rests on isn't going to be very affected by what 5 people in black robes say. They've ignored Congress and they'll ignore the Court too, leaving our mainstream media with more time to deal with the impending threat of blogofascism.


This decision will ultimately feed into conservative boogeyman number 438: judicial activism. Look for Justice Sunday IV: Vengeance is Mine Sayeth Delay. And expect many more calls to spike John Paul Stevens' pudding with arsenic. This is the beauty of the conservo-machine. When your primary political tools are both intimidation and victimization, you can spin anything to your advantage.

Here's Trent Lott doing a triple axel:

LOTT: I think some people are probably laughing at us. This is ridiculous and outrageous. Now in legal speak, let me say, I have not read the entire opinion, nor the dissents. But preliminarily my opinion is they probably didn’t even have jurisdiction. They shouldn’t have ruled the way they did. This is not a bunch of pussycats we’re talking about here. These are people that have made it clear in many instances that they would kill Americans if they got out. This is Osama bin Laden’s driver. And this is one other example of why the American people have lost faith in so much of our federal judiciary. This is a very bad decision in my opinion.


Tonya Harding never sounded this nuts.

I think this could be used to the Democrats' advantage if they were willing to risk changing the terms of the debate for this midterm election and aggressively confront Karl Rove's "you talkin' to me?" trash talk campaign. The Supremes have provided a basis from which to assert congressional perogatives and a hook on which to hang the discussion. Perhaps they will. I hope so, because I am getting a terrible feeling that a lot of rank and file Democrats are going to take a pass on voting this time; no matter how much they dislike Bush and disapprove of his policies, it's very hard to see at this point what difference it will make if the congress changes hands.

Unless the Dems start making the case that Democrats will confront the president if they take power, it's hard to see why turnout will be high enough to offset the Karl Rove red-meat-travelling-salvation-show. He has made a fetish out of exciting his base for the past two elections and at this point it's all he's got. Unfortunately, the Democratic response, just as it has been since the early 90's, is to run from its base and play to swing voters. This hasn't been working out very well for them and it seems remarkably counterintuitive this time out.

I watched the last big change midterm in 1994 with keen interest and I don't recall the Republicans pulling their punches out of fear of upsetting the swing voters in potential pick-up districts. At least they didn't do it on a national level --- they spent months utterly destroying Bill Clinton and tying every Democrat to his "failures." (I recall being completely exhausted defending the president to a brainwashed wingnut boss who demanded that I "explain" my position to him over and over again.) They made the calculation that they could create a strong enough appetite for blood that their base would turn out in large numbers and the Democrats would be disillusioned and stay home.

In much the same way, I think Democrats desperately need to see their leaders take it to this president. He's dramatically unpopular, his war is considered an abject failure by a large majority and he's obsessed with secrecy and power. I think the concept of presidential overreach, with its echoes of Nixon, are issues that speak to the rank and file and would give the base the assurance that if the Democrats take control of the congress, the congress will take back it's constitutional perogatives and provide oversight.

I doubt this will happen. Apparently a president mired in the mid-30's with a GOP Eunuch Caucus that has enthusiastically signed off on every crackpot policy he's put forth can still say boo! and the Dems will still believe it's in their best interest to be measured and moderate. What a shame.


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