Observing President Bush in action lately, we have to wonder if he actually watched the election returns in November, or if he was just rerunning the 2002 vote on his TiVo.They also point out that the voters also sent the Democrats a message, knock the crown off the head of the would be King George.
That year, the White House used the fear of terrorism to scare American voters into cementing the Republican domination of Congress. Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney then embarked on an expansion of presidential power chilling both in its sweep and in the damage it did to the constitutional system of checks and balances.
In 2006, the voters sent Mr. Bush a powerful message that it was time to rein in his imperial ambitions. But we have yet to see any sign that Mr. Bush understands that — or even realizes that the Democrats are now in control of the Congress. Indeed, he seems to have interpreted his party’s drubbing as a mandate to keep pursuing his fantasy of victory in Iraq and to press ahead undaunted with his assault on civil liberties and the judicial system. Just before the Christmas break, the Justice Department served notice to Senator Patrick Leahy — the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee — that it intended to keep stonewalling Congressional inquiries into Mr. Bush’s inhumane and unconstitutional treatment of prisoners taken in anti-terrorist campaigns. It refused to hand over two documents, including one in which Mr. Bush authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to establish secret prisons beyond the reach of American law or international treaties. The other set forth the interrogation methods authorized in these prisons — which we now know ranged from abuse to outright torture.
Also last month, Mr. Bush issued another of his infamous “presidential signing statements,” which he has used scores of times to make clear he does not intend to respect the requirements of a particular law — in this case a little-noticed Postal Service bill. The statement suggested that Mr. Bush does not believe the government must obtain a court order before opening Americans’ first-class mail. It said the administration had the right to “conduct searches in exigent circumstances,” which include not only protecting lives, but also unspecified “foreign intelligence collection.”
The Democratic majority in Congress has a moral responsibility to address all these issues: fixing the profound flaws in the military tribunals act, restoring the rule of law over Mr. Bush’s rogue intelligence operations and restoring the balance of powers between Congress and the executive branch. So far, key Democrats, including Mr. Leahy and Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, chairman of a new subcommittee on human rights, have said these issues are high priorities for them.So will they? Speaker Nancy Pelosi is saying the right things, No Blank Check For Bush In Iraq.
We would lend such efforts our enthusiastic backing and hope Mr. Leahy, Mr. Durbin and other Democratic leaders are not swayed by the absurd notion circulating in Washington that the Democrats should now “look ahead” rather than use their new majority to right the dangerous wrongs of the last six years of Mr. Bush’s one-party rule.
This is a false choice. Dealing with these issues is not about the past. The administration’s assault on some of the nation’s founding principles continues unabated. If the Democrats were to shirk their responsibility to stop it, that would make them no better than the Republicans who formed and enabled these policies in the first place.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said newly empowered Democrats will not give President George W. Bush a blank check to wage war in Iraq, hinting they could deny funding if he seeks additional troops.Will the tough talk become action? Did the Democrats get the message? Time will tell.
"If the president chooses to escalate the war, in his budget request, we want to see a distinction between what is there to support the troops who are there now," she said in an exclusive interview on Face The Nation.
"The American people and the Congress support those troops. We will not abandon them. But if the president wants to add to this mission, he is going to have to justify it and this is new for him because up until now the Republican Congress has given him a blank check with no oversight, no standards, no conditions," said Pelosi, D-Calif.