Friday, June 22, 2012

Jon Stewart Doesn't Think Much Of Obama's Executive Privilege

Jon Stewart is funny, but not accurate - which would probably be good enough for the New York Times. 

The truth is that Obama claim of executive privilege plows new ground. And does so even deeper than Nixon ever dared. Obama is claiming executive privilege over conversations and document that he has claimed all along did not involve him. 

Sure, a president can and should be able to keep deliberations secret. But he cannot claim privilege simply to conceal evidence of wrongdoing. Obama claims that he learned of Fast and Furious on the news. Eric Holder has not only withheld subpoenaed documents but has confessed to two lies under oath.

Another thing that Jon Stewart overlooks is that Bush's claim of executive privilege did not involve a crime

It’s not going to be pretty. Expect a season of recriminations, grandiosities, and sudden reversals. The usual narrative holds that Obama asserted executive privilege, denying Congress the documents it requested in the murderous case of gun-walking called “Fast and Furious,” in order to save his Attorney General Eric Holder.  Perhaps.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, at the end of the day, this spectacular piece of recklessness wasn’t regarded as the beginning of the end for Eric Holder, who will likely face a Contempt of Congress citation next week.  Already, various outlets are preparing the ground by quietly inserting into the discussion the name of Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General under President George W. Bush who was hounded out of office by Democratic zealots after he fired some U.S. Attorneys.  The idea, I suspect, is to upholster the ground so that when (as I predict) Holder is forced out Obama cheer leaders like The New York Times can resort to the tu quoque strategy and say, “Well, Bush’s Attorney General had to resign, too, and some of his staffers were held in contempt.”

Will the upholstery work? Will it successfully insulate public opinion from the damaging facts of the case?  I doubt it.  For one thing, the two incidents are screamingly different. As usual, Andy McCarthy outlined the issue with superlative clarity:
[T]he Bush situation involved (a) a non-crime (presidents do not need a reason to fire U.S. attorneys), (b) a non-scandal manufactured into a scandal (Bush 43 fired 8 U.S. attorneys; Clinton had fired 92 of the 93, and for no better reason than partisan patronage after he defeated Bush 41), and (c) patently improper subpoenas to the president’s personal staffers who are not subject to Senate confirmation and assist him in his constitutional duties. The Obama/Holder situation, to the contrary, involves outrageous government malfeasance in firearms transfers that led to murders, including the killing of a federal agent, and a patently proper subpoena for documentation maintained by the Justice Department, an agency created by Congress and dependent on Congress for its existence, funding and jurisdiction.


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