Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
The hands that rock the cradle II
Meanwhile, WaPo is running an interesting analysis of the real fight in Washington: not over judges or abortion, but over the most elemental aspects of our Constitutional government: namely, how much power resides in the White House vs. Capitol Hill.

Since 9/11, Congress, particularly as it as become more Republican, has ceded more and more power to the executive branch, and now, it seems, the "moderates" -- or more precisely, the strict Constitutionalists among them -- are finally, finally trying to take some of that power back. A very smart person once told me that for American democracy, each branch of government has to jealously guard their prerogatives. Congress has fallen down on that job miserably over the last four years, and it seems to have taken the bull-headedness of the courts (for better of for worse), to shake the boys on the Hill out of their presidential boot-licking stupor. (Maybe the passing of the election has something to do with it too...)

Contrary to what El Rushbo and Sean Hannity would have you believe, the United States House and Senate are not employees of the president of the United States. The executive and legislative branches are not a board of directors, with Mr. Bush as CEO. These are co-equal branches of government, as the ever-colorful Robert Byrd (who knows his Constitution, btw, and he's damn near old enough to have co-authored it) continually reminds his colleagues.

It's about time some of them started listening.

That said, the implications for the reassertion of congressional prerogatives will have consequences for 2008, and you've got to wonder why Senator McCain would be so adamant about putting the breaks on the power of an office he seems so clearly to want for himself. And McCain seems also to have forgotten that despite the media's overwrought devotion to him, in order to become president, he's got to win a certain primary first, and at the moment, at least, the base ain't exactly loving him.

Of course, if we skipped the primaries and went right to the general election, McCain could win easily, without a single vote from the Cult of George W. Bush. But McCain's presence beneath Bush's armpit throughout the campaign seems to indicate he remembers the primary, and wants Bush's help. Maybe Pat Buchanan isn't all that far off when he predicts a McCain-(Jeb) Bush ticket ... I shudder to think.

Update: Barack Obama is staking out centrest territory a lot these days, and this time he's breaking with the Congressional Black Caucus by endorsing the fillibuster-busting "no nukes" compromise, and voting to end debate on newly minted appeals court justice Priscilla Owen (otherwise known as the Washington personality most in need of a makeover...) Obama voted against her nomination in the end.

The Illinois Senator is under tremendous pressure to tow the line of the "elected civil rights leadership," but he's also probably running for president in 2012, so if you ask me, he did the right thing.
posted by JReid @ 12:47 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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