Saturday, December 22, 2007
GOP and Democratic candidates on executive power.
How do the Republican and Democratic candidates for president intend to treat executive power if elected? How do they view President Bush's extraordinary use of "signing statements"? The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage — whose investigative reporting on the Bush administration's use of signing statements earned him a Pulitzer last year — gets answers from Republicans John McCain, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney and from Democrats Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson.
What's at stake? Savage writes:
Bush has bypassed laws and treaties that he said infringed on his wartime powers, expanded his right to keep information secret from Congress and the courts, centralized greater control over the government in the White House, imprisoned US citizens without charges, and used signing statements to challenge more laws than all predecessors combined.
Legal specialists say decisions by the next president — either to keep using the expanded powers Bush and Cheney developed, or to abandon their legal and political precedents — will help determine whether a stronger presidency becomes permanent.
Romney endorses Bush's expansive claims to presidential power — "The Bush administration has kept the American people safe since 9/11," he said; "The administration's strong view on executive power may well have contributed to that fact" — but McCain and Paul disagree. "I don't think the president has the right to disobey any law," McCain said.
Notably, tough guy and Iran hawk Rudy Giuliani did not respond beyond saying that a president "must be free to defend the nation." Mike Huckabee chose the via negativa, and Fred Thompson wouldn't answer, either.
On the Democratic side, Biden, Dodd, and Richardson called for an end to the use of signing statements. Clinton and Obama condemned the way Bush has used them but said that there are some cases when a signing statement should be used to protect "a president's constitutional prerogatives." Edwards criticized Bush's "abuses," Savage said, "but did not categorically rule out invoking the same expansive theories of executive power in other circumstances."
("Survey reveals candidates' views on scope of executive power," Charlie Savage, Boston Globe 12.22.07; my earlier posts on signing statements and executive power: "Against omnipotent rulers," 1.10.06; "Bush never met a law he couldn't sign. And ignore," 4.30.06; "Dick Cheney's omnipotent hand," 5.29.06; "Dick Cheney's imperial presidency," 11.29.06)
Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 22 December 2007 at 10:39 AM