Broder on Politics
Friday, June 30, 2006; 12:00 PM
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and Washington Post columnist David S. Broder will be online Friday, June 30, at noon ET to answer your questions about the world of politics, from the latest maneuverings on Capitol Hill to developments in the White House.
Broder has written extensively about primaries, elections, special interests and the business of politics. His books include "Democracy Derailed: The Initiative Movement & the Power of Money," "Behind the Front Page: A Candid Look at How the News Is Made" and "The System: The American Way of Politics at the Breaking Point."
Submit your questions and comments before or during today's discussion.
Tallahassee, Fla.: How seriously should Americans take the purchase of ports, airlines etc., by non-American governments or private owners? Do business interests "trump" politics or nationalism adequately for us to see these moves as generally benign?
David S. Broder: Good morning. I look forward to chatting with you during the next hour.
To answer the first question, I do not think there us a major security problem in the foreign ownership of some of our port facilities, That has been the case for some time. If the Coast /guard and other homeland security agencies are doing their job the ownership situation should not be a problem.
Questions from Court decision: David:
The Supreme Court decision seems to debunk the administration's argument that the president has extensive, virtually unlimited powers now because we're at "war." This should hopefully lead to a serious discussion: this is not a war in the sense that at some point we will be able to declare victory. Therefore, at some point, the president has to rescind some of the powers that he has assumed after 9/11 or Congress has to permanently give him those powers, which I think most Americans would agree is contrary to our system of government. Is there any chance we'll have serious debate on this in the coming months?
David S. Broder: I think the Supreme Court has given Congress a sharp nudge to start meeting its responsibilities to debate and decide how to conduct this war on terrorism. The summer months of an election year are not the ideal time for such a debate but it behooves the members if the House and Senate to make the effort, I am sure that voters like you will be watching how well they do.
Washington, D.C.: In your column a week or so ago, Senator Lieberman seemed affronted that he should face a challenge in the Connecticut primary because of his unpopular stand on the Iraq war (including equating criticism of the president with disloyalty). But isn't that democracy (small d) -- voters getting to select candidates with whom they agree? And shouldn't Lieberman make a decision NOW as to whether he will support the Democratic nominee or run as a third party candidate?
David S. Broder: When I quoted /senator Lieberman in that column, I was confident that many people would rebut his argument,and many have, I certainly believe that primary challenges to incumbents are as normal as apple pie,and the war un Iraq is certainly an important enough issue to merit such a challenge, The question about pledging to support the nominee is a harder one; Lieberman will have to answer that for himself.
New Hampshire: A good high noon to you, David and thanks for taking my question.
In view of the recent failures of the Republicans to get the flag desecration amendment passed, immigration reform, etc., what do you predict will happen with the probable legislation arising from the Hamdan decision yesterday by the SCOTUS? I viewed the ruling as enormously significant in refuting the idea of a unitary executive and the accompanying rubber stamp Republican congress. I have to say that I see the majority party as seriously weakened in terms of pushing the President's agenda.
David S. Broder: I think there will be peak pressure on the Republicans to come up with a kegak and cinstutytuinak method for trying the Guantanamo prisoners, /as I said to another questioner a moment ago, I expect that voters and reporters akuje wukk be watching closely to see how they act,
Fossil, Ore.: With King George on the throne and a Congress that either rubber stamps or only addresses trivial issues what is the possibility of a third party emerging to refresh this stale government? Oregon has a large number of voters who are registered "no preference"
David S. Broder: As you know, you have an independent candidate running for governor of Oregon, and I have written a column for Sunday abiyt an Independent Oarty skate un Minnesota carrying on in Jesse Ventura's tradition. So obviously the door is open to third party or independent movements, when voters are fed up with the two major parties.
Arlington, Va.: What's to stop the president from declaring all prisoners to be POWs, who will be released at the end of the war or when the U.S. decides to let them go?
David S. Broder: My understanding is that if they were deckared OI/wsm they would be protected under the /Geneva Convention--something that the administration as rejected up to this time. How long they could be held without a trial would have to be adjudicated by the courts, I would think.
Princeton, N.J.: Regarding SWIFT, it's not the program that's bad; it's the lack of oversight. There is clear law that bank records are private and can only be accessed by some showing of probable cause. The administration claims that SWIFT is not a bank which is dubious on its face. In any case they are looking at our bank records wherever they may have obtained them and probable cause is determined by a court, not a bunch of foreign bankers.
David S. Broder: I agree with you that this program like the phone data-mining, cries out for supervision, which is why they FISA court was set up in the first place.
Anonymous: Do you intentionally misspell words when discussing Bush, or did your fingers wander on your keyboard?
David S. Broder: I was given a new keyboard, with a different design, this morning and am adjusting to it. I apologize for the misspellings
Alpharetta, Ga: In your view, how much damage would a 2nd place finish in Iowa do to Sen. McCain, should he pursue the presidency?
David S. Broder: I have no idea. Who will finish first?
Hollis, N.H.: Many of the problems that exist in the world, including the USA, are caused by lack of education in the masses and the leaders. The inefficient system of education is limited to a very small percentage of the local as well as the world population. And that small percentage has it's share of highly educated stupid people. It's time to apply technology to educate the masses. A radical change in the present system, but it can be done. Do you think it can ever happen?
David S. Broder: I don't know what technology you think will work this wonder. My idea of CLASSROOM TECHNOLOGY is to have a great teacher in front of the room.
DoDLand: How do you think this year compares to 1994, in terms of the public's desire for change ?
David S. Broder: The voter interviews in half a dozen states I've visited kead ne ti think the folks are very restless and dissatisfied,very much in a mood to punish some politicians. /but sis farm very few voters have been showing up for the primaries. So I am uncertain whether they will bash incumbents in November or just boycott the polling places.
Washington, D.C.: Thanks for these Chats David.
About the FIESTA Courts. To your knowledge have they denied the government's requests often? It seems like the FISA courts are happy to let things go through as I have only ever heard of one appeal. Or is it just that the idea of proper procedure is a nuisance?
David S. Broder: The FISA court has approved anis every request frim the government. /that makes it harder to understand the administration's reluctance to use that route.
Atlanta, Ga. : People bring up money a lot in the Congressional races, and frequently, the DSCC-NRSC and DNC/RNC-type numbers, how much does fundraising among individual candidates in particular races matter, or are the institutional numbers the ones to watch?
David S. Broder: I would keep an eye on the funds that the candidates themselves raise. /the national money is important,but not as significant as the candidates' own treasuries.
Wheaton, Md.: If there had been one more vote on the SCOTUS for the president's position on the current military tribunals, the lower court ruling which favored the tribunals would have been let stand. Are we within one vote on the Supreme Court of having a possible dictatorship in this country?
David S. Broder: No,I don't think so. I have more confidence in the commonsense and good values of the American people to bekueve that fascusn can take root here.
Anonymous: I must say, Mr. Broder, I'm enjoying deciphering your new keyboard's cryptics. Can we call this the Broder Code?
David S. Broder: I like that suggestion. /but I hope to overcome this affliction and get back to typing English.
Seattle, Wash.: Is it true that, despite his kowtowing to them and acting in all ways as a subservient, Sen. John McCain still has very little support amongst the neo-cons who are all that remain in the GOP at this time?
And, if so, how do you expect Sen. McCain will try to break out of the prison of expectations he has built for himself -- will it be on immigration, appealing to their fear and cowardice -- or on border security, also appealing to their fear and cowardice?
David S. Broder: I have to question the premise of your question. If you vuew the neo-cons, as U do, as the strongest and most persistent supporters of the war in Iraq,then Senator McCain has a reak ckaun in their support. I know of no one other than the President and Mr. Cheney who has been a stronger advocate if giung unti Iraq and staying the course than McCain.
Rockville, Md.: Glad you are OK. Did not mean any offense.
With "Most of ..." I find it sad that many are so limited that they insist that anyone who does not agree with them are not well educated or insane or criminal. Is it just remotely possible that we could be wrong some of the time? I know I am. But I work to learn and fix my mistakes.
David S. Broder: I took no offense. And I agree with you that acknowledging the possibility of error is a very healthy thing. Especially if you can't even type or spell right, as in my case,
Woodbridge, Va.: When was the last time the U.S. made a declaration of war and what are the legal differences between declared and undeclared wars?
David S. Broder: The last declaration of war was on Dec. 8, 1941. As to the legal distinctions,they are beyond my abukuty to explain.
Philadelphia, Pa.: What did you thing of the flag burning amendment? People say it wasn't actually as close as it seemed because some Senators actually didn't believe in it (5-6), and voted for it primarily for political reasons.
David S. Broder: I do not think it possible, or profitable, to sirt oiut the motivations. But the vote was close. The amendment, in my opinion, is frivolous. I think the Constitution is fine as it stands.
Washington, D.C.: That keyboard problem makes it appear that you're getting an early start on your four-day weekend.
I think I'll get an early start on my four-day weekend too.
David S. Broder: I wish I were. I'm working, but struggling.
Los Angeles, Calif.: Just a quick response to an earlier speech. I am a teacher, and the greatest factor I see in children's education is the participation of parents.
With no child left behind setting classroom planning, there's very little difference room-to-room.
David S. Broder: I'm sure parents are important. The combination of good parents and a good teacher is unbeatable.
Pondicherry, India: If the quality of governance depends upon the quality of advisors available to the decision makers, then why do we blame the decision makers, unless you say that the decision makers employ incompetent advisors or sychophants? Any remedy for that? Perhaps only an enlightened press.
David S. Broder: I would put the emphasis--and the accountability--on the quality of the leaders. Competent advice is not hard to find, if you know what you are seeking.
Arlington, Va.: David, why isn't the press backing up the New York Times? The White House is now out for them, and the House passes some moronic, do-nothing resolution. And while I've had problems with the Times' coverage of WMD, on this (and on the secret wiretaps) they are doing what a press is supposed to do -- holding the powerful to account. And if the press had done its job in 2002-03, we wouldn't be in this Iraq mess.
David S. Broder: I've been on the road on a reporting trip this week, so I haven't seen much of the press coverage of t5e dispute. I'll read up over the weekend.
I've enjoyed this conversation and now have to go back to work--learning my new keyboard.
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