Al Gore Rips the Imperial Executive -- Jingo-Eye View. Photo by XTCFan.
It's a privilege of living in the DC area that you can break off a humdrum winter holiday, zip on into the DAR Hall and watch a Constitutional Crisis begin.
Strange bedfellows made politics today rather than the other way around. Hosted by the Libertarian Liberty Coalition, Al Gore addressed a crowd that appeared to be about 80% liberal and 20% Libertarian. This extremely cursory estimate was based on the number of people who clapped madly at certain themes and sat on their hands on others. I think I was most amused by the yawning gulf between factions in the audience when on Gore's line, "I cannot disagree with the Liberty Coalition when it says that Democrats as well as Republicans in the Congress must share the blame for not taking action to protest and seek to prevent what they consider a grossly unconstitutional program," absolutely the only person within view who shot to his feet to try to goose a Standing O was Michael Ostrolenk, director of the very selfsame Liberty Coalition.
But the very strangeness of the bedfellows packing the DAR Hall provided a vital clue about the urgency of the matter under discussion -- George Bush's patently unconstitutional -- imperial -- refusal to be ruled by law. That this brought out passionate Americans from both sides of the political spectrum to watch Gore deliver this speech on a normally sleepy holiday Monday is an indicator of just how deeply we all feel that our country has been hijacked by a dangerous and malignant loon.
Gore traced the gradual erosion of the regulatory powers of both the judicial and the legislative branches of the government and the concomitant rise of the executive, in a litany that has become by now so familiar to those of us who've been alarmed by it since the backlash against the Watergate reforms that began under Reagan. The willing complicity of the Congress in its own defanging came under particularly withering contempt: "There have now been two or three generations of congressmen who don't really know what an oversight hearing is," he scathed, and scrotums tightened all the way down Constitution Avenue. It's a measure of the paucity of our times that the biggest foot-stomping, whistling, yee-ha-evincing line of the night came when he simply reminded Congress of its Constitutional duty:
But for me, I must tell you, my reaction to this next passage, near the end, began as a pang in the tear ducts, followed by a low growling noise in my throat through the middle grafs that grew to an unstoppable, inarticulate yowp as I rose to my feet and cheered. I do believe I choked out quite a lot of rage, paying obeisance to ghosts of history from Normandy to Abu Ghraib, as I leapt to my feet and jumped up and down, applauding and whistling:
The Abramoff scandal is but the tip of a giant iceberg that threatens the integrity of the entire legislative branch of government.
It is the pitiful state of our legislative branch which primarily explains the failure of our vaunted checks and balances to prevent the dangerous overreach by our Executive Branch which now threatens a radical transformation of the American system.
I call upon Democratic and Republican members of Congress today to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution. Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you're supposed to be.
One of the other ways the Administration has tried to control the flow of information is by consistently resorting to the language and politics of fear in order to short-circuit the debate and drive its agenda forward without regard to the evidence or the public interest. As President Eisenhower said, "Any who act as if freedom's defenses are to be found in suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to America."Your man Al. He can wind a stem.
Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."
The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.
Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.
Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?
Transcript at Raw Story.
Video at C-SPAN.com