Sen. Patrick Leahy has mounted his high horse again and is on the warpath against all things Bush and all things Republican. It might be instructive to examine certain statements in his tirade disguised as an interview with Politico.
Leahy said, "The president, with others, has stated in effect that he is a law unto himself and the president can overrule the law, the courts and congressional actions. We have seen this with regards to torture, signing statements and the president determining who will be prosecuted."
For Leahy this is nothing new. Like a spoiled kid who can't always have his way, he has been blowing things out of proportion for some time now -- turning every political frustration into a supposed constitutional crisis. In early 2006, he betrayed his true colors when he said the constitutional "checks and balances that have served to constrain abuses of power for more than two centuries in this country" are at risk when Republicans control the legislative and executive branches.
To Leahy it was a constitutional crisis for voters to elect Republicans to power in the executive and legislative branches. But what's his excuse now, with Democrats in control of the legislative branch? Instead of admitting he has policy differences with President Bush, he says Bush is abusing the Constitution.
I'd like Leahy to cite just one case where President Bush has said that he can overrule the law, the courts or congressional actions. Of course Bush believes the executive branch doesn't have to bend over in rank subordination to the legislative branch, and the Constitution happens to be on Bush's side on this matter. If Bush were the autocratic bully Leahy and others say he is, would he not have wielded the veto pen a little more often?
When Leahy talks about Bush being "a law unto himself," he's usually talking about the NSA surveillance program. But with this program, Bush doesn't claim he can violate or "overrule" the law. He just has a different view of the law and his inherent constitutional authority in this area. He takes the position that the law permits the government to engage in warrantless wiretaps of conversations of suspected terrorists when one party to the conversation is not in the United States.
But Leahy has been playing fast and loose with the facts and law on the NSA surveillance program almost since its inception. Remember when he (and many other Democrats) intentionally mischaracterized the program as domestic spying? Leahy went as far as to say, preposterously, "My concern is for peaceful Quakers who are being spied upon and other law-abiding Americans and babies and nuns who are placed on terrorist watch lists."