Monday, March 17, 2008

Oh, Please!

If it weren't so infuriating, I would find the belated press concern with the illegal behavior of the White House amusing. An editorial in today's Los Angeles Times is a perfect example of the sudden outbreak of handwringing over the current administration's usurpation of power under the aegis of the "unitary president" doctrine. The ostensible subject of the editorial is the administration's brazen over-ruling of the EPA in issuing a tougher standard for air pollution.

What do you do when the president behaves as if he is above science and the law? When it comes to environmental regulation, George W. Bush has repeatedly ignored both, and this country's system of checks and balances has been powerless to stop him. ...

Ignoring scientists is nothing new for Bush, but in this case he also ignored the U.S. Supreme Court. The EPA wanted to include a tougher secondary standard during growing seasons, designed to protect forests, crops and other plants from ozone, which retards plant growth and depletes soil moisture. Alarmed at the costs this would exact on polluters, the White House Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson saying the EPA couldn't impose such limits without considering their economic effect. This is flatly untrue; a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in 2001 held that the EPA did not have to consider the costs of its clean-air regulations, only their scientific basis. When the EPA still refused to back down, the White House sent a curt letter saying the agency had been overruled by the president: The secondary standard was out. ...

We could go on listing the casual abuses of power, but why bother? Bush is immune to criticism, shrugs off every court ruling and is unswayed by scientific evidence. There is only one check on his power that he won't be able to dodge -- the end of his term. It's vital that voters replace him with someone who will reverse his extraordinary attacks on public health and the environment as quickly as possible.
[Emphasis added]

First of all, this country's system of checks and balances has not been powerless to stop him, the system just wasn't ever called into play by Congress. The 109th Republican-led Congress was only too happy to roll over and play dead for the man they'd love to have a beer with. The 110th Democratic-led Congress hasn't been much better, as evidenced by the early-on statement by House Speaker Pelosi that impeachment was "off the table." The only part of government which ever pushed back against the White House (and did so successfully on several occasions) has been the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court.

And the Fourth Estate, the press? Well, perhaps if the press had gone on "listing the casual abuses of power" as they occurred (which means right from the start seven years ago), pressure could have been brought to bear on Congress to stop the abuses. Instead, the press chose impotence. The editorial's own conclusion that there is "only one check on his power," that of the end of Bush's term of office, is evidence of that impotence. It also is evidence of the press's own cupidity: there is still another option, one that apparently must never be mentioned by the serious people, even sotto voce: impeachment.


Labels: , , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, well just watch that Fourth Estate jump into action as a New Democratic President is elected. Wow. You'd think they were chasing a fire or something.


5:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a behind-the-scenes look at more of the dirty details behind the President's interference with the EPA ozone standard, see my posting at

7:45 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home