Worse Than Johnson and Nixon?


Roger Morris, a longtime critic of the imperial presidency, suggests that W. is now invested with more power than any other American leader in recent memory. By the Patriot Act and other enabling laws in the pervasive new realm of "Homeland Security," he writes, Mr. Bush has brought an imperial presidency home to a depth and breadth that Lyndon Johnson, with his furtive FBI spying on antiwar groups, or even Richard Nixon, with his Watergate "plumbers" and other extraconstitutional means, never contemplated.

Morris makes a good case, though I'm not so sure LBJ and Nixon never contemplated this much power. It could be worse, of course: Bush could acquire the unchecked power of Abraham Lincoln (or Jefferson Davis), or Wilson before his stroke, or Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor. The presidency grows strongest in wartime, stronger still in civil and world wars.