Today’s opining on the public discourse.
Maybe it’s something in the water, but it seems most if not all Bush staffers have horrible memory problems. David Addington, Cheney’s former chief of staff, spent today forgetting things in front of the House Judiciary Committee:
It seems like a straightforward enough question: “Do you feel that the Unitary Theory of the Executive allows the President to do things over and above the stated law of the land?” Addington, who’s been known to rely on the unitary theory from time to time, said he didn’t know what Conyers meant, he’d “seen it in the newspapers,” and added, “I don’t know what it is.”
Perhaps Addington is forgetful. He has a lot on his plate, so maybe this might jar his memory.
Even in a White House known for its dedication to conservative philosophy, Addington is known as an ideologue, an adherent of an obscure philosophy called the unitary executive theory that favors an extraordinarily powerful president.
The unitary executive notion can be found in the torture memo. “In light of the president’s complete authority over the conduct of war, without a clear statement otherwise, criminal statutes are not read as infringing on the president’s ultimate authority in these areas,” the memo said. Prohibitions on torture “must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority…. Congress may no more regulate the president’s ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield.”
Yes, the theory Addington doesn’t recognize today happens to be the same theory he’s relied on to rationalize all kinds of presidential powers, including signing statements that have freed Bush from having to abide by pesky laws.
I think it’s time for all of Bush’s buddies to be bundled off to a hospital for testing. One or two forgetful people could be chalked up to individual issues, but it seems like we have an epidemic of memory loss here. Not to mention they’re completely batshit insane. There’s gonna have to be a whole new category added to the DSM’s next edition covering the peculiar psychological problems of neocons.
Addington’s further confused over Cheney’s position in the government:
The video shows Addington reading a 1961 memo describing the OVP as belonging “neither to the executive nor to the legislative branch.” Addington refused to go into any additional detail, saying only that Cheney is “attached” to the legislative branch. When Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) suggested that would make the Vice President a “barnacle,” Addington, disgusted, said he didn’t “consider the Constitution a barnacle.”
Just as an aside, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen any government official express the kind of contempt for Congress as I’ve seen from Addington today. Every response to every question is soaked in pure revulsion. I keep expecting him to spit at the members of the committee after every exchange.
But that aside, Addington’s argument about Cheney’s branch was silly when he first started pushing it, and it hasn’t improved with age.
TP’s Ali sets the record straight:
The assertion is ridiculous. President Bush and Cheney have themselves repeatedly tied the office of the President and Vice President together in the executive branch, not to mention the White House and the Senate websites. In fact, there is video showing Cheney lauding the strength of the vice presidency, asserting that “the vice president’s become an important part of the administration of the executive branch.” […]
In fact, in 2001 Cheney sought to avoid a lawsuit over his energy task force by claiming that a congressional probe “would unconstitutionally interfere with the functioning of the executive branch.”
Yes, those memory problems again: forgetting that Cheney himself desperately wanted to be part of the executive a mere seven years ago. You’d think if a man could quote a memo from 1961, he’d have a clue about things within the last decade, but the Republicon MO is to forget all facts that aren’t immediately convenient to their needs and desires.
You know who else engages in that kind of behavior? Small children.
Rep. Cohen had the wrong analogy for Cheney, methinks. I would’ve said he’s not so much barancle as deadly parasite.
At least Dems are finally starting to get some ideas on how to overcome the stalling, fuckwittery, lying, and general gleeful obstruction of other boils on the ass of our government:
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is planning a “Coburn Omnibus” for July that would wrap most if not all of the bills held by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) into one large measure to be voted on by the Senate, according to a Coburn aide and two Democratic leadership staffers.
Coburn is blocking roughly a hundred bills that are generally non-controversial or have broad support. By placing a hold, Coburn prevents the bills from passing quickly through the Senate under a unanimous consent request. With floor time at such a premium, Reid would have trouble bringing up each bill for an individual debate and vote.
But in a stroke of legislative creativity that may have no precedent, Reid could lump all of the bills into one package and bring up the Coburn Omnibus for a single vote. Coburn can still object, but th
e broad popularity of the bills means that there would likely be more than enough support for veto-proof passage.
That’s the first vaguely useful thing Harry’s done all week. Let’s hope for more creativity, eh?