Archive for July 19, 2006

The President Makes the Decision

So everybody already knows that Bush personally blocked a Justice Department investigation of the illegal electronic surveillance program. I think we can all say ‘obstruction of justice’, but I’m pretty sure Congress (this Congress, with this president) can’t.

I was struck by this key exchange, reported in the Washington Post:

“It was highly classified, very important and many other lawyers had access. Why not OPR?” Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the committee chairman, asked Gonzales.

“The president of the United States makes the decision,” Gonzales replied. [emphasis added]


I’m pretty sure Specter wasn’t asking who Bush is (we already know he’s the Decider); Specter was asking why the Decider Decided the Way he Decided. Gonzales’ response will go down in history as one of the all-time classic non-responsive answers.

Just for perspective, let’s try this out in some everyday-type situations:

Officer: Why didn’t you stop at that stop sign?
Driver: The driver makes the decision.

Mom: Why didn’t you do your homework?
Kid: The kid makes the decision.

Really, that’s the level we’ve sunk to with this administration.

The scariest part is that Gonzales (and Bush and the whole lot of them) probably think this is an answer–that the provenance of the decision makes it unquestionable. It’s the executive infallibility doctrine in action; under the influence of people like Addington and Cheney, they’re so ideologically committed to executive supremacy that it doesn’t even occur to them that simply asserting it might not be sufficient.

And the sad thing is, they’re probably right; despite some sharp questioning by Specter and Dianne Feinstein nothing more is going to come of this latest outrage than came of the hundreds before it.

[Cross-posted at If I Ran the Zoo]