The difference between the practice of Pres. Clinton and that of Pres. Bush is not simply one of volume--though that alone is striking, particularly given that Pres. Clinton faced a hostile and adversarial Congress dominated by the opposing political party while President Bush for the first six years faced a docile and supportive Congress. Pres. Clinton's signing statements wer based on well-settled principles of constitutional law and were guided by a desire to allow the judiciary to resolve issues of constitutional interpretation. Pres. Bush's signing statements, however, rest on legal theories regarding his own power.
Bill Clinton issued signing statements covering 140 laws over eight years, as compared with his predecessor, George H. W. Bush, who objected to 232 laws over four years. George W. Bush, by contrast, has issued more signing statements than all o his predecessors combined--challenging the constitutionality of more than 1,000 laws during his first 6 years in office.
The difference between the practice of Clinton & that of George W. Bush is not simply one of volume--though that alone is striking. Bush's signing statements rest on his theory of his own power is so vast that, in practice, it amounts to an assertion of power that is obviously unconstitutional--a power to simply declare what provisions of law he will and will not comply with.
In practice, what television’s dominance has come to mean is that the inherent value of political propositions put forward by candidates is now largely irrelevant compared with the image-based ad campaigns they use to shape the perceptions of voters. The high cost of these commercials has radically increased the role of money in politics--and the influence of those who contribute it. That is why campaign finance reform, however well drafted, often misses the main point: so long as the dominant means of engaging in political dialogue is through purchasing expensive television advertising, money will continue in one way or another to dominate American politics. And as a result, ideas will continue to play a diminished role.
The Constitution give the president a choice of signing a law, vetoing a law, or refraining from signing a law--in which case it goes into effect without his signature. But those are the only options. The president is not a member of the legislative branch and therefore is not entitled to pick apart all of the provisions of each law and decide for himself which provisions he will accept and which he will reject.
Bush’s signing statements rest on legal theories that his own power is so vast that it is obviously unconstitutional--a power to simply declare what provision of the law he will & will not comply with.
Paid disinformation-- in support of candidates and ballot initiatives--is polluting America’s democratic discourse. So long as it is politically impossible to simply prohibit such funding, we should pursue the next best option--increasing the transparency of all contributions.
The Tennesseean set up a joint sting operation with the district attorney. Cohen agreed to be wired for sound and met Haddox, with Gore parked just out of view. Cohen asked what it would take to pass the permit. “It’ll take a grand to get it done,” said Haddox. The Tennesseean had a councilman cold, on audiotape & film, taking a bribe.
What looked to be a slam dunk ended in bitter defeat for Gore & his paper when the Haddox case went to trial. It ended in a mistrial, the jury deadlocked 8-3 in favor of conviction, with one member undecided. Like his father’s defeat, the case was more painful evidence that righteousness did not guarantee victory.
His reinvention quest ultimately led to some significant reforms, principally in the area of purchasing practices. But Gore failed to entertain the fundamental questions as he launched REGO: What does government do? Could someone else do it better? Gore’s efforts add up to a mixed picture. By 1998 the federal payroll had been reduced by 330,000 positions (15.4%), mostly at the Defense Department. In the end Gore’s REGO probably did save the government some money and certainly helped make it smaller. But it was not redesigned, reinvented, or reinvigorated, as he set out to do.
It was not clear whether Pendleton applied to the vice president. But what was clear was that his usually circumspect instincts had been flattened by the money hunt.
No court case had ever determined the legality of a situation like Gore’s; thus Gore concluded there was “no controlling legal authority” that barred Gore from making the calls in his office. Gore also announced that while he had done nothing wrong, he would never do it again.
“I did not know it was a fund-raiser,” Gore said in 1997, contending that he believed he was attending a goodwill event. Some details support that contention: after lunch, he delivered a standard stump speech praising racial and ethnic diversity. There were none of the usual thank-yous he offered to groups of contributors for their financial support.
Exactly what Gore knew may never be completely clear. But the episode suggests that Gore’s zeal for election money in 1996 eroded his judgment, sense of propriety, and usual attention to detail.
|2016 Presidential contenders on Government Reform:|
Mayor Rahm Emanuel(IL)
2016 Third Party Candidates:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg(I-NYC)
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