Ed Driscoll

New York Times: 'After the Imperial Presidency'

The Gray Lady is not happy about a lawless, out of control White House, and demands checks and balances be put in place after November’s stunning election results:

Ask a long-serving member of the United States Senate — like, say, Patrick Leahy of Vermont — to reflect on the Senate’s role in our constitutional government, and he will almost invariably tell you a story from our nation’s founding that may or may not be apocryphal. It concerns an exchange that supposedly took place between Thomas Jefferson and George Washington in 1787, the year of the constitutional convention in Philadelphia. Jefferson, who had been serving as America’s ambassador to France during the convention, asked Washington over breakfast upon his return why he and the other framers created a Senate — in addition to the previously planned House of Representatives and presidency — in his absence.

“Why did you pour that coffee into your saucer?” Washington reportedly replied.

“To cool it,” Jefferson answered.

“Even so,” Washington said, “we pour our legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.”

The United States Senate has been called the world’s greatest deliberative body. By serving six-year terms — as opposed to the two-year terms in the more populist and considerably larger House of Representatives — senators are supposed to be able to stand above the ideological fray and engage in thoughtful and serious debate. What’s more, the filibuster rule allows a single senator to halt the creep of political passions into the decision-making process by blocking a given vote.

Perhaps nowhere is the ethos of the Senate, this commitment to principle over politics, more memorably captured than in the classic 1939 film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” when Jimmy Stewart, who plays an idealistic freshman senator wrongfully accused of graft, refuses to yield the floor until he has cleared his name. (After almost 24 hours, he winds up passing out from exhaustion but is ultimately exonerated.)

“We’re supposed to be the conscience of the nation,” Senator Leahy told me recently in his Washington office, which is decorated with New England folk art, including a print of a dog and cat cuddling on a throw rug that looks as if it could be on loan from a bed-and-breakfast in his home state.

Leahy is one of Congress’s so-called Watergate babies. He was elected to the Senate following Nixon’s resignation in 1974, and his arrival on Capitol Hill coincided with the sweeping bipartisan effort to investigate the Nixon administration’s abuses of executive power. “There was a sense inside the Senate among both Republicans and Democrats that the government had gotten off course and that we had a responsibility to find out what happened,” Leahy recalled.

Strong stuff. Of course, it was published on November 7th 2008, and the Times would go on to quickly forget its own words — if they even believed them in the first place. Since then, the paper has reveled in the glory of one-party government (as long as it’s as far to the left as possible) and nuking the Constitution.

No doubt, the only reservations the Carlos Slim-backed newspaper has on Obama’s amnesty is what a President Cruz or President Walker might do with such a precedent established. In the meantime, as Roger Kimball writes today, “It’s not every day that you get to have a ringside seat at the birth of tyranny.  Tune in tonight and you might have that dubious privilege.” The Times in particular should love their front row seats.

Related: “Watch Obama Admit That Obama’s Immigration Executive Order Is Illegal.”

Well, it’s not like the man held himself out as a professor who used to teach the Constitution while running for the presidency or anything.

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