Monday, July 10, 2006

Bush, FDR and Hamdan

Earlier I discussed the White House's attempt to cast FDR in the same unpopular light as Junior Bush. Rather than comparing Bush and Roosevelt, it might be more useful to contrast them.

Eric from Is This Legal? writes:

I am reminded of the discussions within the Roosevelt Administration (the War Department, the Justice Department, the Department of the Interior, and to a lesser extent the President himself) during the summer and fall of 1944 as they awaited the Supreme Court's decision in Ex parte Endo.

The Endo decision came on December 18, 1944; it declared illegal the continued detention of loyal Japanese Americans in the eight "relocation centers" that the War Relocation Authority was operating at that time.

What's interesting to me is that the Administration spent the summer and fall of '44 preparing for the possibility of an adverse outcome in Endo. Felix Frankfurter tipped the Administration off that the decision was coming on the 18th; this enabled the Administration to preempt the Supreme Court's decision by announcing on the 17th of December that it would be bringing the detention and exclusion of Japanese Americans from the West Coast to an end. It had a plan in place to end the mass exclusion of Japanese Americans and to replace it with a system of targeted individual exclusions of those it deemed especially dangerous.

Compare this to the disarray in Washington over the last couple of days.

It's quite obvious to me that this Administration just could not bring itself to believe and plan effectively for the possibility that it might lose the Hamdan case, and lose it big.

Why am I not surprised?

On the other hand, Paperwight's Fair Shot has a much more pessimistic view. According to Paperwight, Bush and Co. weren't keeping their head in the sand, they wanted a confrontation with the Supreme Court:

Given the Bush Administration's adoption of the theory of the Unitary Executive, for which the traitor John Yoo is the most well-known advocate, the Bush Administration does not believe that any power on earth short of force can prevent them from doing whatever they damn well please. In other words, the Bush Administration has adopted the political theory of dictatorship. Whether they use it to the fullest extent, or only around the edges, mostly on brown people, mostly on non-citizens, is a different question.
The question to ask is this: When the Bush Administration has ignored Congress and defied the Supreme Court, unwinding over two hundred years of the balancing act of our Constitution, and almost eight hundred years of Anglo-American law, and faced no consequences, what is there to stop them from doing as they truly please?

We will all live at the king's sufferance, and can only hope that he chooses to step down peacefully, as Generalissimo Franco finally did. Of course my belief is that we already live at the king's sufferance, but I am admittedly pessimistic.

Paperwight's prediction was "shortly after the July 4 recess" -- which would make the next couple of weeks very interesting. Will Mad King George insist he's beyond the law? Will he and his neo-cons end the pretence that America is a country ruled by laws? Or will they avoid the confrontation for a little while later?

My guess is that they won't burn any bridges just yet. That's not to say that they haven't explicitly said that the President is above the law; but why force the issue when they don't have to?

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