by Jim Hightower
George W insists that he has supreme power as commander-in-chief to spy on American citizens without following any stinking due process of law. Dick Cheney snarls that anyone who disagrees is a terrorist-coddler. Karl Rove snaps that Democrats who oppose Bush's spy operation are Osama lovers. Alberto "See No Evil" Gonzales told congress that the president can, by-damn, make his own rules in wartime.
Wow — these guys are like hormone-addled fourteen-year-olds! They're doing a high strut in hopes of intimidating their political enemies. But wait — while the puffed-up Bushites are looking to their left, look who's coming at them from the right. Bush's unilateral assertion of autocratic executive power is hardly a conservative principle, and a growing number of prominent right-wingers are howling that Bush & Gang are desecrating their movement.
"My criteria for judging this stuff is what would a President Hillary do with these same powers," says Paul Weyrich, the influential head of a right-wing think tank. And here comes Grover Norquist, a Newt Gingrichite who hates big government: "There is no excuse for violating the rule of law...Not to (get warrants before spying) appears to be an expression of contempt," he says.
David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union, is even more blunt: "Their argument is extremely dangerous in the long term, because it can be used to justify all kinds of things that I'm sure the president nor the attorney general has thought about. The American system was set up on the assumption that you can't rely on the good will of people with power."
Also, Bruce Fein, a top legal official with Ronald Reagan, chimes in that, "It's Bush's defenders who are embracing the most liberal and utopian view of human nature with their 'trust me' argument. A view that would cause the Founding Fathers to weep."
On this one, mark me down as siding with the conservatives.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com
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