Defenders of the Constitution


Tempest under the Capitol dome

Hastert and Pelosi

You know something is wrong in Washington, D.C., when Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) rush to the microphones in high dudgeon and agree with each other!

The Constitution is under assault, they outraged. The Executive branch has made an unprecedented breach of the Separation of Powers, they inveighed. The sky is falling, cried Little Red Hen.

Put simply, the FBI, with a search warrant signed by a federal judge, had raided the congressional office of Representative William Jefferson (D-LA) to look for further evidence in a bribery investigation. Prior to this incursion, the FBI had videotaped Jefferson accepting a suitcase containing $100,000 and later found $90,000 in Jefferson's freezer, and — quelle surprise! — the serial numbers of the $100 bills in the freezer matched the serial numbers of the $100 bills that had been in the suitcase. Who knew the expression "cold hard cash" could be taken so literally?

But Pelosi, Hastert, and others harrumphed and demanded that the FBI give back whatever documents they had seized. How dare they?! The nerve!?! Righteous indignation reigned supreme before every microphone.

What planet are these folks living on? Where was this sensitivity to the Constitution when George W Bush decided he could call people "enemy combatants" — even US citizens — and lock them up in Guantanamo indefinitely with nary a hint of due process? Where were they when W decided he could tap telephone calls without a warrant? When he decided to ignore international law and signed treaties? When he published "signing statements" that said he would decide which parts of laws that he signed he would chose to "faithfully execute"?

In the long, pitiful administration of George W Bush there have been so many actions by the Executive that warranted a Constitutional Crisis but were blithely ignored by craven Republicans and spineless Democrats. This sordid incident is what they choose to take a stand over?

It isn't just W who lives in a bubble. All of Washington appears hermetically sealed off from reality! It is no wonder that the American public holds politicians — of both parties — in such low regard it verges on contempt. It is no wonder that people can't get excited about going to the polls to vote.

It's Memorial Day. Is this the kind of crap that brave young men and women are giving their lives to defend? I think not.