Okay - - so the immigration reform legislation crashed and burned.
Most news reports have positioned this as a defeat for the President, and that is most certainly true.
But it's also a defeat for the Congress. And with dismally low approval ratings from the American people, this very unpopular Congress needs to stop appearing as though they're working hand-in-hand with a slightly less unpopular President - - and begin working against him!
I know, it may sound crude or insensitive to describe these things in such raw political terms. But let’s be honest: the Democratic leadership in Congress worked in a very close, bipartisan way with their Republican colleagues AND the White House on the immigration issue - - and they are now paying a steep price for it, in terms of their popularity around the country.
But now, with uncanny timing, the Congress has received a great political gift - - the President has uttered the words "executive privilege" - - and the congressional leadership seems ready to exploit this one for all it's worth!
In what has already been described by the Associated Press as a “constitutional showdown with Congress” (is it really???) Presidential counsel Fred Fielding told Congress on Thursday that President Bush was claiming “executive privilege.” In so doing, Fielding explained, the President had rejected congressional demands for documents regarding the previous firing of some U.S. Attorneys, and documents from former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former White House political director Sara Taylor.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was quick to react, describing this turn of events as “Nixonian stonewalling,” and stating that “increasingly, the president and vice president feel they are above the law” (Mr. Leahy’s ability to know the “feelings” of others is truly extraordinary - - I wonder if he knows what I’m “feeling” right now).
Similarly, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) claimed that the President’s assertion of “executive privilege” was “unprecedented in its breadth and scope” and was indicative of “an appalling disregard for the right of the people to know what is going on in their government.”
The statements sounded great, and grabbed plenty of headlines - - especially the “Nixon” reference from Leahy (nice job, Pat).
But are these statements true???
Well, frankly, no - - not really.
Modern-day Americans might be uncomfortable with hearing the words “executive privilege” from the White House, no matter who occupies the office. For this reason, there’s probably some political points to be scored right now by the President’s political opponents.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.