No Comment — July 26, 2007, 5:25 pm

Return of the Reaganites

This really is something. Not just the piece by Kelley and Turner. I just meandered my way through the Financial Times and, after reading the plans of my always hilarious Tory friend Boris Johnson to run for mayor of London, I stumble across an equally amazing piece by Bruce Fein, the former number two in the Reagan Justice Department, drawing a broad assessment of the Bush-Cheney regime.

In his recent interview with Bill Moyers on PBS, Fein said that the grounds now accumulated for a bill of impeachment against Bush were far more serious than those which had been mustered against Bill Clinton… he favored the impeachment of Clinton, of course. But he pulled back before making the logical next statements. And here they are in the FT:

To borrow from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, upon what meat doth this our vice-president, Dick Cheney, feed that he has grown so great? Mr. Cheney’s imperial vice-presidency has trampled the conservative constitutional philosophy of the Founding Fathers. He has used the law to evade checks and balances. For example, he declared himself part of the legislative branch – as president of the US Senate – to exempt his office from President George W. Bush’s order governing classified information. But days later he draped himself in the mantle of the presidency to defend the confidentiality of vice-presidential communications and claim immunity from suit for any constitutional violations.

The constitution entrusts the vice-president with a single puny chore: to preside over the Senate, without a vote except to break ties. Occupants of the vice-presidency have bewailed its insignificance. Their typical tasks have been handing out blankets after earthquakes and attending state funerals. Presidents have been characteristically jealous of their constitutional turf.

Mr. Bush is a monumental exception. He entered politics not because of philosophical conviction or even a raw desire for power, but for a lack of anything better to do. His policies fluctuate like a human weather vane. Mr. Bush eagerly agreed to Mr. Cheney’s tacit demand that the lion’s share of the presidency be outsourced to the vice-president’s office. Unlike Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney craves unchecked power. The Founding Fathers were suspicious of the likes of Mr. Cheney. They believed that since men were not angels, checks and balances through a separation of powers were indispensable to frustrating both tyranny and folly. Congress, the president and the Supreme Court were expected to police one another. The makers of the constitution believed that sunshine is the best disinfectant. Accordingly, Congress was crowned with authority to oversee the executive branch for lawlessness or maladministration by examining presidential communications . . .

Congress is too timid and constitutionally illiterate to be awakened to the need to impeach Mr. Cheney for his acts against the nation. Like old soldiers, he will simply fade away after the expiry of his term, but probably in disrepute. Whether any of the Cheney doctrine will survive is uncertain. The events of September 11, 2001 are still distorting the judgements of many Americans and office-holders.

Fein is right on each of these assessments. And his concluding statement I think is intended as a provocation. It’s time to see if this Congress has the backbone that the Founding Fathers expected a Congress to have. Today the Congress has a clear and specific mission: to lasso the errant presidency and drag it, kicking and screaming if necessary, back to the space that the Constitution intended it to occupy. Its tool in achieving this mission are limited, and impeachment is one that must be considered. Congress faces a foe that regales itself over Congress’s lack of resolve and continuous hesitation. Soon we’ll see whether President Cheney’s contempt is justified.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

January 2015

Come With Us If You Want to Live

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Body Politic

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Problem of Pain Management

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Game On

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Love Crimes

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Body Politic·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“‘He wrote all these love poems, but he was a son of a bitch,’ said a reporter from a wire service.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
Article
Love Crimes·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If a man rapes a woman, she might be forced to marry him, because in Afghanistan sex before marriage is dishonorable.”
Photographs © Andrew Quilty/Oculi/Agence VU
Article
Game On·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union had posed a truly existential threat.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Come With Us If You Want to Live·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I was startled that all these negative ideologies could be condensed so easily into a positive worldview.”
Illustration by Darrel Rees
Article
Christmas in Prison·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Just so you motherfuckers know, I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, eating a good meal, and you’ll all be here, right where you belong.”
Photographer unknown. Artwork courtesy Alyse Emdur

Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:

36,000

A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.

Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today