Examining Lows of Bush's Approval, Partisan Divide
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
The continued clashes between Congress and the White House these days have senior news analyst Daniel Schorr thinking, can this be what the framers of the Constitution had in mind?
DANIEL SCHORR: Our Constitution designed to forge a more perfect union rests on the assumption of a certain degree of comity between the executive and legislative branches. But comity is strained with President Bush suffering a 65 percent unpopularity rating, just one point away from President Nixon's 66 percent shortly before he resigned.
So now, the House Judiciary Committee seeks contempt citations against White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House legal counsel, Harriett Miers, for defying congressional subpoenas. The president throws the tattered cloak of executive privilege over them. In any event, the contempt citations would have to be enforced by a U.S. attorney, which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would not let happen.
So the battle of constitutional privilege goes on to the bemusement of the public. Gonzales, meanwhile, is involved in his own battle of the branches of government. Before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Gonzales was denounced in language seldom heard in a congressional chamber. I don't trust you, said Chairman Patrick Leahy. Your credibility has been breached to the point of being actionable, said ranking Republican Arlen Specter using legalese for perjury.
Specter has raised the prospect of appointing a special prosecutor, although he knows he would never get that through the Justice Department. Specter also wryly notes that there's a jail cell in the Capitol basement - a reference to the time when Congress could order its own arrests and trials.
And so in the end, it is sound and fury, leaving the public shaking its head over the games politicians play with the Constitution.
This is Daniel Schorr.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.