I cannot find the editorial cartoon I wanted to use to illustrate this post, but I'm sure you've seen it: it's the image of a very pensive, determined President Barack Obama taping the US Constitution back together.
I admit it, I'm skeptical that any President would willingly hand back the kinds of power that Dubya pried out of the Constitution over the past eight years.
But a year ago today I would also have expected Hillary Clinton to be awaiting Inauguration, so what the hell do I know?
Events are catching up to Barack Obama's presidential campaign as events will do, and at this point it is doubtful that his first couple of years in office are going to unfold precisely as planned.
There is no evidence that Barack Obama or his advisors saw the Great Meltdown coming, and they're going to be dealing with that on the domestic side for the foreseeable future.
Likewise, in Gaza and Afghanistan, Mr Obama is going to get a very early chance to show off that spine of steel we're all waiting to see.
So, just to insure that the raggedy-assed old Constitution doesn't get forgotten, here's a list of three Executive Orders that Barack Obama needs to sign in the first week of his administration:
1) An Executive Order forbidding the domestic use of US troops under Federal control in any capacity except disaster relief or at the specific request of a State to resist a Constitutionally recognized insurrection. This EO should explicitly countermand the newly assigned mission of the 3rd Infantry Division.
2) An Executive Order forbidding Federal agencies from employing warrantless wiretaps.
3) An Executive Order forbidding the use of torture. I won't get into defining the term here. You could go with the restriction to interrogation methods allowed by the US Armed Forces manual, or you could just go with the old if-it-walks-like-a-duck-and-quacks-like-a-duck philosophy.
I refuse to accept the idea that these three ideas need to be studied, that the President needs to retain flexibility, or that access to new intelligence has convinced the President to take a more nuanced course than that required by the US Constitution.
He could also take out his pen and attach a post-legislative signing statement to the Patriot Act, specifying which sections he considers unconstitutional and will instruct his agents not to employ. This would not be like Dubya flouting the law. What Obama would be doing is declining to use certain powers given him by Congress until his Attorney General can have them vetted against the Constitution in the Courts.
Here's my question for all the Bush critics/Obama supporters of the past two years: are you willing to hold your guy accountable to his own rhetoric and promises to restore the Constitution, or not?
And, if not, I'd love to hear your rationalization.
You can provide that now, or around 1 February 2009.