Thursday, March 9, 2006; 2:06 PM
Why does President Bush think he can get away with ruling more and more like an absolutist? Maybe because that's what the American people really want.
The most brash and yet plausible rationale I have heard so far from within the White House for Bush's unprecedented assertion of executive power comes toward the end of a Washington Post opinion column this morning by Jim Hoagland .
Hoagland, who specializes in foreign affairs, writes today about how Bush and Russian President Vladmir Putin have something common: They have both pushed their efforts to concentrate power to the point where even some of their most loyal allies are concerned.
Then Hoagland quotes a "White House aide defending U.S. policies on Guantanamo Bay prisoners, secret renditions and warrantless eavesdropping."
This is what the aide has to say: "The powers of the presidency have been eroded and usurped to the breaking point. We are engaged in a new kind of war that cannot be fought by old methods. It can only be directed by a strong executive who alone is not subject to the conflicting pressures that legislators or judges face. The public understands and supports that unpleasant reality, whatever the media and intellectuals say."
Anyway, I've been thinking about trying to do something a little different in my Friday columns, as a change of pace. One possibility: Let you guys write them for me.
So here are my questions for you readers -- particularly those who support Bush, live in red states, or think you have some insights into the mindset of Bush supporters: Is that an accurate analysis of the situation on the ground? Is there a silent majority out there that understands and supports the need for a strongman in the White House? Is this White House -- so often accused of making up its own reality -- in this case actually more in touch with the "unpleasant reality" of post-9/11 America than the media and intellectuals?
Post your responses over here , in this washingtonpost.com message board. You will have to register for the message boards, if you haven't done so already. And I would ask you to please post using your real name and please treat your fellow posters with respect even if you think they are on crack. Unless things get entirely out of hand, responses that follow the site's rules for discussions will be posted there. If the responses are interesting enough, I'll compile them and publish them tomorrow right here. Extra points for pithiness and/or real life anecdotes.
Carl Hulse writes in the New York Times: "After more than five years of allowing President Bush relatively free rein to set their course, Republicans in Congress are suddenly, if selectively, in rebellion, a mutiny all the more surprising since it centers on the party's signature issue of national security. . . .
"The president and his Congressional allies have been at cross-purposes before, but it has never reached the level of the port confrontation. The conflict reflects a view held by many Republicans that the White House has asked a lot of them over the years, but has responded with dismissive and occasionally arrogant treatment -- a style crystallized in Mr. Bush's quick threat, with little or no consultation, to veto any effort to hold up the port deal legislatively."
Of course it's possible that this is all just Republican Kabuki.