Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dangerous Concepts

I don’t often agree with George F. Will, but this time he’s got it right.

…[T]errorism is not the only new danger of this era. Another is the administration’s argument that because the president is commander in chief, he is the “sole organ for the nation in foreign affairs.” That non sequitur is refuted by the Constitution’s plain language, which empowers Congress to ratify treaties, declare war, fund and regulate military forces, and make laws “necessary and proper” for the execution of all presidential powers. Those powers do not include deciding that a law — FISA, for example — is somehow exempted from the presidential duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

The administration, in which mere obduracy sometimes serves as political philosophy, pushes the limits of assertion while disdaining collaboration. This faux toughness is folly, given that the Supreme Court, when rejecting President Harry S Truman’s claim that his inherent powers as commander in chief allowed him to seize steel mills during the Korean War, held that presidential authority is weakest when it clashes with Congress. [Emphasis in original.]

So when Attorney General Gonzales told Congress that if they had any suggestions for new legislation he’d be “happy to listen to your ideas,” he was either showing the administration’s arrogance for the concept of the balance of power, or sheer ignorance. Either way, it’s a dangerous concept and not the way the system works.