Thursday, May 04, 2006

Here's Something Else

While writing about the signing statements, I made a big deal that Bush was circumventing the law by simply claiming he didn't have to follow it. This is still true, of course, but there's another angle I had missed. Unclaimed Territory brings that up.

When Bush signs a law (sometimes with great, camera-clicking, back-patting, sycophantic press coverage) he's saying "I agree, this should be law." No problem.

Let's say he doesn't think it should be law, for whatever reasons. He could veto it, explain his problems with it, and send it back to Congress for them to work it out, agree or disagree, and either send it back or kill it. This would expose Bush's thinking, his ideas, and his theories.

Or he could pretend to agree with said bill, and then later in the secrecy of the Oval Office, wielding a Signing Statement pen fast running out of ink, he could quietly and sneakily decide he doesn't want to follow it. Then no one knows why he disagrees with it, or even for the most part THAT he disagreed with it. I certainly wasn't aware he had issued over 750 statements.

But all this plays to Bush's mindset. Why be honest? Elide the truth, make slippery claims and loaded statistics, use unclear and vague language, never say anything for certain, always have an excuse ready, and whatever you do, never ever tell the truth, because then you're held to it and can be shown to be wrong.

See, if he announced when he got the bill that, say, he didn't feel obliged to report to Congress on warrantless wiretappings, that would be a statement he could be measured by, argued about, debated with. It would be in public, out there. People could see how he thinks. So instead, he pretends to agree with the bill and then in the darkness says, "Except for this, so I won't follow it."

There is a method he could have used. I feel sure he knows about it, even though he never uses the veto. But he chose to lie about following the bill while in public and secretly say why he wouldn't.

When the Hell are people going to realize that Bush's honesty is about as valid as Clinton's fidelity? How long will it take before people understand that Bush has secretly and sneakily tried to expand Presidential powers at the expense of Congress and the courts, and is doing so in the most underhanded, snake slithery, lawyerly say-one-thing-and-mean-another fashion it's possible to do outside a broad satire?

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