What the White House Needs Is More Power


Rich Lowry does a nice job summarizing the right-of-center complaint du jour: That the congressmen, journalists, and 9/11 commissioners who are criticizing the Bush Administration's conduct in the War on Terror (and over-obsessing about Abu Ghraib) are basically weak-kneed, publicity-hogging frivolity-peddlers who are "emasculating" America's ability to defend herself.

True or not (and I'd vote "not"), this critique amounts to a full-throated endorsement of the Executive Branch expanding its power at the expense of the legislative, judicial, and journalistic. When a "grandstanding" congressman calls Donald Rumsfeld onto the carpet and makes an ass of himself in the process, well, that's kind of how this messy checks-and-balances thing works, as far as I can tell. Thankfully for Lowry, this administration, made up of many figures who were scarred by the post-Watergate reform era, has been consciously (and effectively) scaling back many of those mid-1970s restrictions on Executive Branch power and secrecy. It will be interesting, and possibly amusing, to see if those who agree with Lowry's basic sentiment will be singing the same "stop yer bitchin'!" tune if and when a different political party takes charge of a considerably strengthened White House.