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August 24, 2008

It's All Wrong, But It's All Right

By: Bernard Chazelle

Like Jonathan, I am having trouble containing my excitement about Joe Biden. I heard on NPR that, unlike Obama, Biden knows where the bathrooms are in the White House.

That's very exciting news. But... how would NPR know? Did Neal Conan or Robert Siegel actually ask Biden to count, locate, and describe the White House urinals? Did they ask him whether he made use of the facilities and, if so, why? If the president calls you into his office to share with you his latest plan to carpet-bomb a poor Muslim country, do you go "Hold that B-52 thought just a sec, Mr President, where's the restroom?" Wouldn't that say something significant about your ability to lead? If you can't plan ahead to use the bathroom before meeting the president, why should I believe you can plan the reconstruction of a nation after you've annihilated it? I read that Napoleon lost at Waterloo because he had a bad case of hemorrhoids (think about it: if not for hemorrhoids, you'd all be speaking French.) A politician's intimate knowledge of White House plumbing should be cause for worry not reassurance. Trust NPR to miss that.

If you think my fears are ill-founded, check this out.

Six months before the invasion of Iraq, four US senators asked the CIA to produce a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq's WMDs. Ten days after the report came out, Biden joined the majority of the Senate in authorizing war.

Biden read the report and saw immediately that the White House was peddling major-league crapola.

I did read it, and that's why I took issue from the very beginning, as you'll recall, from the very beginning, saying that what they were saying was not accurate.

Biden smelled a rat. So what did he do? Did he rush to inform his lazy colleagues who couldn't be bothered to read the NIE? No, that would be illogical. You see, when you catch a president in a lie, you draw the obvious conclusion:

[Y]ou have to accept the assertions Presidents make. I make the assumption, when the National security Adviser tells me something, when the President tells me something, when the secretary of Defense tell s me something, when the secretary of State tells me something, they're telling the truth... It shouldn't be a moral obligation that we have to doublecheck them.

Not a moral obligation, indeed -- a constitutional one.

— Bernard Chazelle

Posted at August 24, 2008 12:04 PM

Having come to the conclusion long before Obama sewed up the nomination--a conclusion based on his actual policy pronouncements rather than his bromides about hope and change--that he was unsurprisingly another corporate imperialist criticizing Bush's incompetent handling of corporate imperialism, I find it quite easy to view the announcement of Biden (D-Corporation Free State of Del.) with perfect equanimity.

Posted by: Rojo at August 24, 2008 02:38 PM

AGREED!!! But then that's old news. In 3 or 4 years WE can put Iraq behind us and concentrate on what's important, Iran, Georgia, and IF WE feel like it Afghanistan. (in three or four years)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at August 24, 2008 03:36 PM

"[Y]ou have to accept the assertions Presidents make."

That's not old news, Michael, that's a sign of ongoing wrongful unconstitutional congressional deference to the president on foreign policy, due to a common misconception in the land, and unfortunately in the Congress (e.g. Biden's kow-towing to Bush), that while the Congress is responsible for domestic policy the President is responsible for foreign policy. That's wrong.
There's nothing in the Constitution that says so.

And if Biden thinks the President has this unconstitutional power, and he apparently does, then we have a man running for the executive branch who doesn't understand, or doesn't care to understand, the limits of executive privilege.

Here's Senator Wayne Morse on the subject:

Posted by: Don Bacon at August 25, 2008 12:20 AM

As Glenn Greenwald writes:
"If Congress became any more cooperative [with the Executive Branch], Capitol Hill might just vanish altogether."

Posted by: Don Bacon at August 25, 2008 02:36 AM

And if Biden thinks the President has this unconstitutional power, and he apparently does, then we have a man running for the executive branch who doesn't understand, or doesn't care to understand, the limits of executive privilege.

when he himself could wield such executive power as VP, he would have to be uncharacteristically(for any politician) honest to return any privilege that has been usurped by his predecessors.

Posted by: almostinfamous at August 25, 2008 06:32 AM

So the demotard ticket is "McChange and the War Criminal" now. Why does this sound like a bad '80 TV detective show?

Posted by: AlanSmithee at August 25, 2008 08:59 AM

Let me help you out, Don: Biden et. al. understand what the limits of executive power are: they simply don't want to exercise enforcement of those limitations. As we keep saying on the more progressive blogs, Bush gave the Dems what the Dems themselves wanted. It is extremely, extremely important that Biden be recognized as not being special. He is the standard Democratic leader when it comes to moral values.

Don't bother challenging his positions with citations to the Constitution or other rules. Would you cite the rules of poker to a player who pulls a gun on you? The stupidity of any Congressperson is completely irrelevant because their selfish acts benefit them and they know the benefit is wrong. If they find out, after a crime, that it was not merely evil and unpatriotic but illegal, what additional thing is lost?

Posted by: No One of Consequence at August 25, 2008 11:39 AM

I am very curious to know the choice for VP by the commenters ( including the bloggers Prof Chazelle and Mr Schwarz ) if they had a say in the matter and it counted. Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Sen Chuck Hagel are excluded for obvious reasons.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 25, 2008 02:25 PM

Rupa Shah: General Wesley Clark, of course.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at August 25, 2008 04:06 PM

Lieberman, because of the sickly-sweet stench of despair that would consume the base.

I'm serious. I want the Dems to piss off every well-heeled and comfortable liberal in the country.

So Lieberman. Or an out-and-out Republican.

And then I want the other Dem leaders to rally around the choice. That is essential.

Posted by: No One of Consequence at August 25, 2008 04:51 PM

Damn fucking straight.

Posted by: Brian at August 25, 2008 09:14 PM

Personally, I was wondering if a "Sane Billionaire" would not have been a perfect choice!! Would not need to be wined and dined, would not need free trips to resorts, lobbyists would be in his/her pocket rather than the otherway round, would donate millions to provide healthcare and scholarships for education, would allocate funds for building low income housing, would not blow trillions on stupid wars!!!!!!! because would know the value of every penny earned. And best of all, the president then could go abroad and give inspiring speeches without doing anything at home!!

I can not believe I am writing this but some of ATR is rubbing off on me and am a bit delusioned!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 25, 2008 10:15 PM

This comment should have been posted before the previous one.
Mike Meyer, NoOnOCon,Brian:
Thanks for your choices !! We have been promised HOPE and dream has to be kept alive!!!!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 25, 2008 10:22 PM

I heard on NPR that, unlike Obama, Biden knows where the bathrooms are in the White House.

I was in a very high security area once where no door had any markings, including the bathrooms. If you didn't know where you were going, you had no business walking around. I guess the White House is now like that. Why, if the VP didn't know where the bathrooms were, he might have to go in the corner of the Cabinet Room.

Posted by: Marshall at August 26, 2008 09:55 AM