Thursday, January 19, 2006


Does David Broder have a man-crush on Al Gore?

David Broder is the senior political columnist at the Washington Post. He is often labeled a “dean”: “the dean of American political punditry”, the "dean of the Washington press corps”, the “dean of [fill-in-the-blank]” - probably because he’s been around seemingly forever (if you’re 50 or younger, he’s been working in Washington all your life). In general, I’ve long considered him better than most liberal political columnists – if for no other reason than the competition is so weak. But his latest effort is causing me to rethink that.

His Thursday Washington Post column (Gore's Challenge) reads like a fan letter to Al Gore as he offers his analysis of Al Gore’s latest diatribe against the administration. Here are some tidbits:

“Having outpolled Bush in the popular vote only to see his apparent victory taken from him by a divided Supreme Court,..”

Apparent victory? The only time Gore’s victory was “apparent” was when the networks called Florida for him – despite the fact that Gore never led in the Florida vote count (nor should we forget that all the polls in Florida hadn’t yet closed). And I’m sure Mr. Broder realizes that the overall popular vote is ultimately irrelevant. Mr. Broder may also want to revisit the Supreme Court decisions!! in that case – they took nothing from Al Gore.

“But even after discounting for political motivations, it seems to me that Gore has done a service by laying out the case as clearly and copiously as he has done. His overall charge is that Bush has systematically broken the laws and bent the Constitution by his actions in the areas of national security and domestic anti-terrorism.”
Clearly? Copiously? Here’s Al Gore after outlining his problems with some of the administration’s responses to our post-9/11 environment:
“Moreover, there is an in fact an inherent power conferred by the Constitution to any president to take unilateral action when necessary to protect the nation from a sudden and immediate threat. And it is simply not possible to precisely define in legalistic terms exactly when that power is appropriate and when it is not.”
In other words, A president has some leeway constitutionally to act in defense of the country – just not this president. The rest of Al Gore’s clear and copious case: Gore's Speech.
Finally, Mr. Broder throws the wiretapping bit out.

“Gore's final example -- on which he has lots of company among legal scholars -- is the contention that Bush broke the law in ordering the National Security Agency to monitor domestic phone calls without a warrant from the court Congress had created to supervise all such wiretapping.”

Sigh….This is an issue about which we simply do not have enough information to assess its legality or illegality. Based on the limited information available to us about the program, I tend to believe it fits within the “power conferred by the Constitution to any president to take unilateral action” for national protection.  But citing “lots of company among legal scholars” tells us nothing – you could have probably found “legal scholars” supporting any effort to impeach President Bush (or otherwise discredit him) minutes after his first inauguration.

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