Law Politics The Opinionsphere

The Source of Authority

I have my opinion of this statement, but it is somewhat more subtle than most who read this blog might guess – but here’s Dick Cheney being interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday:

The president of the United States now for 50 years is followed at all times, 24 hours a day, by a military aide carrying a football that contains the nuclear codes that he would use and be authorized to use in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States.

He could launch a kind of devastating attack the world’s never seen. He doesn’t have to check with anybody. He doesn’t have to call the Congress. He doesn’t have to check with the courts. He has that authority because of the nature of the world we live in. [my emphasis]

It’s interesting that though Cheney continually refers to the powers of the Constitution throughout his remarks, grounding his justifications of various extraordinary actions in his unique interpretations of the Constitution, his final source of authority is “the nature of the world we live in.” I don’t think this is the worst possible justification – but it is a hypocritical one for someone who opposed a judiciary that saw the Constitution as changing as the nature of the world we live in changed.

The Opinionsphere

Bleeping William Kristol

William Kristol in The New York Times (my comments in red):

[C]onsider this exchange with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday”:

WALLACE: Did you really tell Senator Leahy, bleep yourself? (I wonder if Wallace really said “bleep” or if his question was bleeped.)

CHENEY: I did.

WALLACE: Any qualms, or second thoughts, or embarrassment? (Really – this is what you’re asking him if he has had second thoughts about – not torture? not his pushing of domestic wiretapping so radical it almost forced the entire top levels of law enforcement to resign in protest before Bush intervened? this?)

CHENEY: No, I thought he merited it at the time. (Laughter.) And we’ve since, I think, patched over that wound and we’re civil to one another now.

No spin. No doubletalk. (I’ll grant Kristol this. This exchange seems franks, even if Cheney was known as someone who could manipulate and spin with the best of them – just ask Dick Armey who still regrets that Cheney convinced him to support the Iraq war.) A cogent defense of his action — and one that shows a well-considered sense of justice. (“I thought he merited it.”) (WTF? How does this exchange demonstrate that Cheney has a “well-considered sense of justice” – because he thought that guy deserved it? Please! Kids use that as their justification – and now Kristol is trying to make Cheney’s “I thought he deserved to be told to fuck himsel” into some koan-like mastery of justice! This is worse than spin by Kristol – it’s just plain silly.) Indeed, if justice is seeking to give each his due, one might say that Dick Cheney aspires to being a just man. And a thoughtful one, because he knows that justice is sometimes too harsh, and should be tempered by civility. (This whole conversation is about how Cheney told Patrick Leahy to “Go fuck himself” on the floor of the Senate. I can accept that Cheney might think Leahy deserved it. But to say that it proves Cheney aspires to be a just man? And a thoughtful one??!? And that justice must be tempered by civility. It’s like Kristol is talking about an entirely different incident and the facts are mere props that sometimes get in the way. Kristol’s editor shouldn’t publish this bullshit. He should tell him to – in the words of our Vice President – go fuck himself. Because Kristol deserves it.)