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Out of Control

The events of recent weeks have freaked a lot of people out. We have President who has devolved into utter lawlessness and nobody with the power to stand up to him is doing so. Jack Balkin attempts to place it all in some context via the concept of “constitutional hardball,” and his analysis underscores the need for action:

At this point in Bush’s Presidency three things matter above all others. They motivate this final round of constitutional hardball: The first is keeping secret what the President and his advisers have done. The second is running out the clock to prevent any significant dismantling of his policies until his term ends. The third is doing whatever he can proactively to ensure that later governments do not hold him or his associates accountable for any acts of constitutional hardball or other illegalities practiced during his term in office.

If the NSA program and the Torture Memos were examples of the second round of constitutional hardball, the Libby commutation and Harriet Meiers’ refusal to testify before Congress are examples of the third round. Although his Presidency now seems to be a failure, Bush’s third round of constitutional hardball may be every bit as important as the first two. That is because if Bush is never held accountable for what he did in office, future presidents will be greatly tempted to adopt features of his practices. If they temper his innovations and his excesses only slightly, they will still seem quite admirable and restrained in comparison to Bush. As a result, if Congress and the public do not decisively reject Bush’s policies and practices, some particularly unsavory features of his Presidency will survive in future Administrations. If that happens, Bush’s previous acts of constitutional hardball will have paid off after all. He may not have created a new and lasting constitutional regime, but he will have introduced long-lasting weaknesses and elements of decay into our constitutional system.

I don’t know if this thought scares the daylights out of anybody else, but it has plagued me of late — that if nothing is done to stop Bush, if he pays no price, we’re looking at the future of the United States because there is nothing for any President to fear. And that’s a pretty bleak picture.

Dover Bitch also has a great post over at Digby’s place on the lunkheadedness of those who supported the Lieberman Amendment.  If these are the people we’re relying on in the situation, we’re in a heap o’ trouble.  WFT were they thinking.

(h/t Kagro X)

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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