Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

October 23, 2007

Clinton and Executive Power

by Jason Pye

Hillary Clinton said she give up some expanded executive powers:

If elected president in 2008, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton would consider giving up some of the executive powers President Bush and Vice President Cheney have assumed since taking office.

In an interview published Tuesday in Guardian America, a Web site run by the London-based Guardian newspaper, Clinton denounced the Bush Administration’s push to concentrate more power in the White House as a “power grab” not supported by the Constitution.

Asked if she would consider giving up some of those powers if she were president, Clinton replied, “Oh, absolutely … I mean, that has to be part of the review that I undertake when I get to the White House, and I intend to do that.”
[...]
“There were a lot of actions which they took that were clearly beyond any power the Congress would have granted, or that in my view was inherent in the Constitution,” Clinton said. “There were other actions they’ve taken which could have obtained Congressional authorization but they deliberately chose not to pursue it as a matter of principle.”

My initial thoughts when I first saw this article were…since when did Hillary Clinton start caring about Constitutional limitations on government? The answer to that is….she doesn’t. And, if Congress approves some action that is constitutionally questionable, like sneak-and-peek or the NSA wiretapping program, does that justify it? The answer to that is…no. There is a process to amend the Constitution. Legislative action without the required Constitutional changes should be scrapped by the Supreme Court, especially one that claims to follow an “originalist” philosophy. But when a court uses the judiciary without textural support to justify the position of the executive branch, which is just as much a case of judicial activism as any liberal judge undercutting those “family values” that I can’t seem to find anywhere in the Constitution, conservatives seem to be perfectly fine with that.

I’ve already posted this article, but Radley Balko makes the case that Hillary Clinton will continue the same course that Bush has taken with regard to expanded executive powers, and argues that she will continue to seek expansion

:What about secrecy and executive power? 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.”

Such is why President Bush has recently had some nice things to say about Hillary Clinton, leading some to speculate that Bush sees her as the Eisenhower to his Truman—a candidate from the opposing party who criticizes his foreign policy during the campaign, but will likely pursue a very similar policy should she be elected.

Clinton is just more of the same…you’d think hawkish conservatives would love her as much as they love Rudy Giuliani.

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  • Chepe Noyon

    It sounds to me as if you’re more interested in bashing Ms. Clinton that considering Constitutional problems. I myself don’t have a much confidence in Ms. Clinton, but I’m prepared to listen to her. She has stated that she will discard some of the powers that Mr. Bush has asserted. You seem ready to condemn her because she has not committed to discarding all of the powers Mr. Bush claims. I agree that her actions may not go far enough, but at least she seems to be pointed in the right direction? Mr. Paul is clearly way ahead of Ms. Clinton on this point, but she is also ahead of any of the other Republican candidates, wouldn’t you agree?

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublethink George Orwell

    Clinton is just more of the same…you’d think hawkish conservatives would love her as much as they love Rudy Giuliani.

    To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully-constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them; to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy; to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved using doublethink

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    We just don’t believe her, Chepe. She’s just saying what’s politically expedient. She’ll probably make a big to-do about yielding a few powers and then usurp two dozen more. Nothing about her record, especially her votes in the Senate, indicate that she actually cares about a Constitutional separation of powers.

  • http://jasonpye.com/ Jason Pye

    She has stated that she will discard some of the powers that Mr. Bush has asserted.

    History says that she is not sincere.

  • Greg

    To Whomever wins the upcoming election,

    Hail Caesar!!!

  • http://www.two--four.net/weblog.php Billy Beck

    “I myself don’t have a much confidence in Ms. Clinton, but I’m prepared to listen to her. She has stated that she will discard some of the powers that Mr. Bush has asserted.”

    Look, Chepe: you’re talking about a person whose lieutenant Ira Magaziner filed a willfully false affidavit in the Health Care Task Force working-groups federal lawsuit, and then who told a White House deputy counsel to “Just fix it, Vince!”

    I am very sure that you have absolutely no serious idea in the world what you’re dealing with in her.

  • js290

    I am very sure that you have absolutely no serious idea in the world what you’re dealing with in her.

    She can’t be worse than Dubya…

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    js290,

    I used to say the same thing about Dubya in regards to the first Clinton. Never underestimate the ability of a politician to be worse than their predecessor.

  • http://www.two--four.net/weblog.php Billy Beck

    During the Nixon administration, my father told me, “Son, if you don’t like this president, wait’ll you see the next one.”

    That man was never wrong for the rest of his life.

    This next election is going to be a disaster, no matter who wins.

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