June 18, 2006

200 signing statements!

From Penraker:

It is remarkable that the left willl seize at Presidential signing statements - things that have no legal effect, things simply aspirational, defensive, and with no more power behind them than the breeze - to claim that Bush is becoming a dictator.

They didn't even notice them when Bill Clinton was President. He issued 200 of them, if I recall the numbers correctly. Every President since Reagan has used them....

I wish I had known about Clinton's signing statements when a knee-jerk Leftist made the same argument to me, about how he was deeply shocked and worried by Bush's unprecedented dictatorial power-grab. But even if Bush had invented them, the argument is still not respect-worthy. To openly express disagreement with something you don't believe in is democratic, not dictatorial.

And the idea that the Executive Branch must obey any law passed by the Legislative Branch is silly, and is only being pushed at the moment because a Republican is in the White House. Just imagine, if you will, that a President issued an executive order that impinged on the powers of Congress. You can bet there would be statements galore! And Congress would certainly, and properly, not obey.

There has always been in our history conflict between the three branches of government over the extent of each branch's jurisdiction. That is the issue behind the signing statements controversy. And even if we had a 1,500 page constitution, like that EU abomination, there would still be such conflicts. There always will be. What usually isn't mentioned in the discussion is that Congressional Democrats, when they were cock-a-hoop after the fall of Nixon, (besides condemning millions of South Vietnamese to death, exile or socialist slavery) enlarged Congress's powers into areas traditionally Executive. And now there is a push-back...

* Update: Here are some links on Presidential Signing Statements. Clinton actually issued 105 of them, Reagan 71.

Posted by John Weidner at June 18, 2006 9:25 AM
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