Friday, July 17, 2009

Party Trumped Constitution

Here’s some stunning news:

Two former Republican members of Congress have accused their GOP colleagues of putting party politics over the Constitution during the Bush years, arguing that they failed dramatically to check the White House’s use of executive powers.

Former Reps. Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.) and Chris Shays (R-Conn.) made the argument that if the Republican-controlled Congress had exhibited greater oversight during former President George W. Bush’s time in office, they could have prevented some of the most calamitous results of that administration and even saved thousands of lives.

[…]

“One of the most shocking things was when the House voted to hold [Counsel Harriet] Miers and [Chief of Staff Josh] Bolten in contempt because they refused to obey a congressional subpoena,” said Edwards. “Every single member of my party, except for three, walked out. Members of Congress walked out of the chamber rather than stand up as members of Congress so that congressional subpoena (would) be obeyed. Party trumped Constitution.”

No kidding.

I’m not expecting the party in power not to see the Constitution and the rules in a way that is to their advantage, and I’m sure the Republicans will fall back on their habit of saying the Democrats did it too — as if that justifies it. But even if they did, it was not to the degree that it was under the Bush administration, and there still aren’t defenders like John Yoo out there trying to get out from under it.

But if the Bush administration and the Republicans let their party allegiances trump the Constitution and trample all over it, it would be just as wrong for the Obama administration to do the same by not investigating the actions of people who need to be held accountable for it.