Imperial President of the American Empire?

From Editor & Publisher:

NEW YORK At his briefing today, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow was naturally peppered with questions about President Bush's upcoming speech to the nation about his plans for (it seems to be an open secret) sending more U.S. troops to Iraq. Snow wouldn't quite admit that this was indeed set in stone but sparred with reporters over why the president thinks the public will find this appealing.

Snow held out hope that the Democrats would come to their senses about opposing this but admitted it could even be a battle royal. But what about calls for the Democrats to halt the build up by denying funding? Snow admitted congress had funding control but also pointed out that the president could ultimately do what he wants. "You know, Congress has the power of the purse," Snow said, then added: "The President has the ability to exercise his own authority if he thinks Congress has voted the wrong way."
I'm sure Tony Snow is alluding to the veto pen. I mean, Constitutionally speaking, that's the only 'authority' that any president has over a congress that has voted 'the wrong way.'

It seems that the man who was divinely inspired to run for President (and divinely selected as president by various people in Florida and the Supreme Court) has decided that he also has a divine right to rule and is unbound by our Constitution.

Say Congress passes a law requiring the President to come to Congress for approval of any increase in troop levels in Iraq. Bush vetoes the law, but Congress over-rides the veto. Bush orders an increase of troops in Iraq anyway because congress 'voted the wrong way.'

What happens? Do the Generals not order the troops to Iraq? Does the Supreme Court order the Generals not to send the troops? This would be a constitutional crisis far surpassing anything we've seen since the Civil War.

Think my example is too extreme? Try this one:

Congress passes a law requiring the Bush Administration to turn over documents about pre-war intelligence efforts to 'sell' the war. Bush Vetoes. Congress over-rides. From here, you can take your pick. Either Bush just doesn't turn over the documents or he issues a signing statement (when he signs the bill into law) stating that he's not really going to obey this law because it interferes with his divine right to rule power as a unitary executive.

While the public might, might notice if the President over ruled Congress, sending more troops into an unpopular war, they're not likely to notice (or care) that he's withholding documents.

But either way, he's circumvented the Constitution, violated his oath of office and committed an impeachable offense - let alone the fact that he's destroyed a system of government that the United States sees as central to its identity for over 200 years and betrayed the trust and the rights of every American.

* * * * *

Ok, calm down. Tony Snow said this, not the President himself. None of these hypotheticals have yet come to pass. Though deep concern is appropriate, it's not time for hysterics. (Yet.)

The next 24 months will be interesting. Bush and his administration have, for the last six years, been able to operate in any way that they liked without fear of investigation, criticism, oversight, or interference from other branches of government. That has changed. And with a President who is accustomed (since birth) to getting exactly what he wants, when he wants it because 'he's George W. Bush, godddamnit!'

Will, when he's pushed, when he's held accountable, George W. Bush be able to stay within the rules of our Constitution? He's played fast and loose with them before, but will a hostile Congress, an unpopular war, abysmal approval numbers and the looming nightmare of a disastrous legacy be too much for him?

If, when the time comes, will the Democratic Congress have the fortitude to call out Bush's crimes? Will the Republicans in Congress have the decency and honesty to take the necessary measures to restrict a president of their own party, should the need arise?

Only time will tell..

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