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Tidbits for Political Junkies with Short Attention Spans & Hearty Appetites

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Saturday, April 10, 2004

 
Games Bushies Play


Earlier this week, Josh Marshall referred to “logic puzzles,” here:

All we seem to be hearing are hollow assertions of a vacant will.

From the White House's advocates we hear logic puzzles about appeasement in which the fall-out from the president's screw ups become the prime argument for continuing to support them

This turn of phrase again came to mind, when I ran across this description, in Worse than Watergate, of what John Dean calls an “absurd game.” Follow along with me, and you'll see why:

When it came to the war against Iraq, Congress was deceived, just as the American people were, only what happened with Congress deserves a very close look because it reveals that Congress did not give the administration a blank check authorization. In fact, Bush deliberately violated the very authorization that he sought from Congress, which was not merely a serious breach of faith with a trusting Congress but a statutory and constitutional crime.

As Dean notes:

On October 10, Congress overwhelmingly approved a resolution authorizing a war with Iraq. But there was a kicker in the authorization: Congress conditioned its grant of authority on a formal determination by the president that there continued to be a threat that could not be dealt with through diplomacy and that his actions were consistent with the war against those involved in 9/11 – a detail unreported in the news media.
….

In short, Congress insisted that there be evidence of the two points that were the centerpiece of Bush’s argument for war.

To elucidate precisely how the game was played, Dean notes that the joint resolution contained some twenty-three “Whereas” clauses, and then carefully explains what these clauses are – and aren’t:

…these seemingly declaratory statements have no real meaning, so they are not debated – and are seldom discussed – by Congress. They are part of the joint resolution, which when approved by both the House and Senate and signed by the president, becomes law. But that does not make the whereas clauses either fact or findings of fact by Congress. Legal scholars call these clauses “precatory” – words of entreaty, desire, wish – and here, hope, with no other meaning. Understanding the nature of these clauses is necessary to appreciate the absurd game Bush played with Congress.

So what do you think happened?

You guessed it:

On March 18, 2003, Bush sent his formal “determination” to Congress….His letter merely tracked the exact language of the statute, making that language his determination. Accompanying this letter was the “Report in Connection with Presidential Determination under Public Law 107-243.” It is an extraordinary document. It’s content can be accurately analogized to male bovine droppings; H.L. Mencken might have described it (to paraphrase him) as “the topmost pinnacle of slosh,
for it is rumble and bumble, it is flap and doodle, it is balder and dash.” For certain, it is not material befitting a “determination” by the commander in chief to undertake the grave responsibility of expending the nation’s blood and treasure in an act of war. It is closer to blatant fraud than to a fulfillment of the president’s constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the law.

This might be funny if the consequences weren't so deadly. At this point, however, I have only one request: after 630+ soldiers killed, after 18,000+ "medical evacuees," after $160 Billion dollars spent on this misadventure, can we please, please, stop referring to the authorization as a "blank check." It wasn't. It was, and remains, a brazen and lethal fraud.


(this entry cross-posted to my Diary at Daily Kos) |

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