Hillary Clinton And Executive Power

As things stand today, Hillary Clinton is the odds-on favorite to win the White House in 2008. While things could, and hopefully will, change between now and then, that brings up the interesting question of just how eager she would be to divest the Presidency of the powers that George W. Bush has assumed over the past seven years.

Over at Reason, Radley Balko suggests that she won’t be so eager to undo what Bush has done after all:

It’s difficult to see Hillary Clinton voluntarily handing back all of those extra-constitutional executive powers claimed by President Bush. Her husband’s administration, for example, copiously invoked dubious “executive privilege” claims to keep from complying with congressional subpoenas and open records requests—claims the left now (correctly, in my view) regularly criticizes the Bush administration for invoking.

Hillary Clinton herself went to court to keep meetings of her Health Care Task Force secret from the public, something conservatives were quick to point out when leftists criticize Vice President Cheney’s similar efforts to keep meetings of his Energy Task Force secret.

“I’m a strong believer in executive authority,” Clinton said in a 2003 speech, recently quoted in The New Republic. “I wish that, when my husband was president, people in Congress had been more willing to recognize presidential authority.”

That jibes with a February 2007 New York Times article on Clinton explaining her refusal to back down from her vote for the Iraq war: “Mrs. Clinton’s belief in executive power and authority is another factor weighing against an apology, advisers said… she believes that a president usually deserves the benefit of the doubt from Congress on matters of executive authority.”


As a libertarian, it will at least be entertaining to watch the left squirm while defending Hillary Clinton’s “right” to employ the same executive powers and engage in the same foreign policy blunders they now argue that President Bush has superceded his authority in claiming. And it’ll be equally fun to watch the right cry foul when President Hillary claims the same powers they have so vigorously fought to claim for President Bush. The problem, of course, is that entertaining as all that might be, an increasingly imperial presidency isn’t good for our republic.

Outside of Ron Paul, there doesn’t seem to be anyone running for President who realizes that.

  • Mark

    This is what people never get when they are proposing new powers for THEIR people in office – someday, that office will be occupied by someone else, and all the powers you gave to someone you ‘trusted’ will now be exercised by someone you oppose.

    We should STOP giving new powers to these idiots and START taking some back.

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