Thursday, June 19, 2008

Scary: Bush doesn't know the meaning of the word "constitutional"

People have come up with all kinds of theories to explain our president's, uh, nuanced view of his constitutional powers vis-a-vis other branches of government. There's the whole "unitary executive" thing, of course, and numerous other explanations for his not-all-that-subtle thrashing of long-standing beliefs about the Constitution. In watching an interview between Bush and a reporter from the BBC, however, I was struck by the realization that, when you get right down to it, he simply does not understand the meaning of the word "constitutional." Here's the relevant passage:

BOULTON: But the Supreme Court have just said that -- you know, ruled against what you've been doing down there.

THE PRESIDENT: But the district court didn't. And the appellate court didn't.

BOULTON: The Supreme Court is supreme, isn't it?

THE PRESIDENT: It is, and I accept their verdict. I don't agree with their verdict. And it's not what I was doing down there. This was a law passed by our United States Congress that I worked with the Congress to get passed and sign into law.

BOULTON: But it looked like an attempt to bypass the Constitution, to a certain extent.

THE PRESIDENT: This was a law passed, Adam. We passed a law. Bypassing the Constitution means that we did something outside the bounds of the Constitution. We went to the Congress and got a piece of legislation passed.
Do you see what he did there? The reporter points out that Bush's various shenanigans with respect to detainee treatment seemed to be an end run around the Constitution, to which points out that this could not be unconstitutional because he "got a piece of legislation passed." This, to me, reveals a breathtaking ignorance; I mean, this stuff is covered in American Government 101. The legislature passes laws, the executive authorizes them, and then the judiciary determines whether those laws are constitutional. Something isn't constitutional simply because you "passed a law."

Unbelievable, and, pretty scary.

Here's a video of the interview, in which Bush gets thoroughly trashed by the interview. I'd say "humiliated," if I thought Bush was capable of this emotion. "The Supreme Court is supreme, isn't it?" Hilarious.