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The end of the separation of powers

George Will is one of the few conservatives who sees, or will admit that he sees, the true legacy of the Bush presidency: the complete irrelevance of Congress..

A new Capitol Visitor Center recently opened, just in time for the transformation of the Capitol building into a tomb for the antiquated idea that the legislative branch matters.
Congress’ marginalization was brutally underscored when, after Congress did not authorize $14 billion for General Motors and Chrysler, the executive branch said, in effect: Congress’ opinions are mildly interesting, so we will listen very nicely — then go out and do precisely what we want.

This is the culmination of a long and gradual usurpation of power by the executive branch. Yet so-called conservatives, who railed against Bill Clinton’s attempted expansion of presidential authority through the use of Executive Orders, have been mostly silent while the Bush administration has

aggressively wielded the concept of the “unitary executive” — the theory that where the Constitution vests power in the executive, especially power over foreign affairs and war, the president is immune to legislative abridgements of his autonomy.

These extraordinary powers, conservative pundits claim, are necessary because of the extreme threat posed by terrorists and rogue states.

But, as Will notes, President Bush hasn’t limited the expansion of executive power to national security matters. He has used “signing statements” to designate 1,100 provisions of new laws — more designations than all prior presidents combined — that he does “not consider binding on him or any other executive branch official.”

Above the law. Sounds more like a king than a servant of the people. Conservatives, watch what happens now with a progressive wielding those powers.

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