“If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier… just so long as I’m the dictator.”
– George W. Bush, Dec. 18, 2000
President Bush is inches shy of achieving his dream. Really. How else can you explain his recess appointment of John Bolton to be UN Ambassador, an act of incredible arrogance that shows an absolute disregard for the separation of powers our founding fathers wisely ensconced in the Constitution? I think Sen. Edward Kennedy summed it up well:
“The abuse of power and the cloak of secrecy from the White House continues,” Kennedy said. “It’s bad enough that the administration stonewalled the Senate by refusing to disclose documents highly relevant to the Bolton nomination. It’s even worse for the administration to abuse the recess appointment power by making the appointment while Congress is in this five-week recess. It’s a devious maneuver that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate consent and only further darkens the cloud over Mr. Bolton’s credibility at the U.N.”
Republican Sen. George Voinovich, who had previously warned that such a “controversial and ineffective ambassador” would put at risk our nation’s ability to fight the war on terror — and who had made a tearful plea to his colleagues not to approve Bolton’s nomination — said he was disappointed by Bush’s action.
“I am truly concerned that a recess appointment will only add to John Bolton’s baggage and his lack of credibility with the United Nations.”
Hell… why bother with confirmations at all? Why not just have Bush make all his appointments recess appointments, so he doesn’t have to deal with that pesky Senate? Of course, when Bolton’s tenure proves to be a disaster, and when revelations about his prior abuses of power continue to trickle out — including his own involvement in Valerie Plame’s outing — the American public will know exactly who to blame for embarrassing our nation by sending Bolton to the UN.
See, what Republicans label as “Democratic obstruction” was really the proper exercise of the checks and balances provided for in the Constitution. Senators representing a majority of American voters refused to confirm the President’s nominee, and so Bush decided to ignore the advice and consent of the Senate by abusing a rarely used Constitutional loophole… a vestige of a time when Congress was in recess for months at a time, and took weeks to reassemble for special session.
President Bush exercises power because he can, and Americans need to understand that.
Should we suffer a catastrophic terrorist attack on his watch — such as a nuclear detonation in a major American city — Americans should be prepared for Bush to act according to character… to declare a state of emergency, suspend the Constitution, and seize powers that can only be described as dictatorial. This would essentially be the end of our democratic republic. I’m not saying this is likely scenario, but it is certainly one that is easily imagined given the tone, tenor and history of this authoritarian administration. And we need to start talking about it now, while we can still do so freely without fearing imprisonment.