With less than a year left in office, many conservatives and liberals alike would prefer to consider President Bush irrelevant. A little-reported action taken last week by the decider-in-chief, however, should alarm voters and spark Congress to prepare for a constitutional showdown.
Bush took pen to paper and issued another of his notorious "signing statements," this time indicating he believes portions of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act interfere with his presidential powers and he reserves the right to ignore them. The most significant part of the law Bush plans to discard is a prohibition to fund permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.
Savvy war opponents have long said the true reason Bush and his cabal of neocons launched the Iraq invasion and occupation was to provide the United States with a new foothold in the Middle East in preparation for the likelihood that U.S. troops would one day leave Saudi Arabia. With this in mind, Congress recently tried to prevent the establishment of permanent bases in what increasingly feels like this nation's new colony on the Persian Gulf.
The ballsy Bush, however, didn't stop there.
His signing statement also indicated he would ignore provisions that call for an investigation into alleged contracting fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan and a requirement that U.S. intelligence agencies more quickly submit requested documents to Congress.
To some observers, the action might look like a form of classic "C.Y.A." on the Bush administration's behalf.
The latest signing statement was reported by Congressional Quarterly and a couple of progressive Web sites but received scant attention from the mainstream media preoccupied with the presidential horse race in last week's Florida primary.
Some Republicans and Democrats have said Bush's broad use of signing statements violates the Constitution's separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government. Last week's action could be the line in the sand that finally triggers a legal challenge to the practice.
Bush has issued more than 151 signing statements during his tenure, challenging 1,149 provisions of various laws.
Let's face it: Based on their remarks and actions over the past few years, Bush and the power-behind-the-throne (Vice President Dick Cheney) show a fundamental dislike for democracy and the principle of separation of powers. To turn their own demagoguery back on them, one might even say, "They hate America."
By any rational measure, Bush's presidency has been a disaster.
The United States went from a budget surplus to a record deficit, we began an unprovoked war based on false pretenses, the nation's reputation internationally has plunged to new lows, the economy has worsened, our civil liberties are threatened and we haven't found Osama bin Laden. Strangely, Greater Cincinnati remains one of the last strongholds for Bush supporters.
Is it 2009 yet?
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