Rudy Giuliani

John Dean on Rudy (and Hillary?)

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John Dean's been on the neocon-bashing beat for a few years—here's a 2002 article by Charles Freund that gets into his early anti-Bush stuff—but he still sounds fresh to liberal bloggers. He told a wormy joke about George W. Bush buying puppies (he saw a boy selling them, the boy called them "conservative Republicans," Bush came back the next day and the boy said they were "Democrats, moderates and liberals" because they "opened their eyes") that got huge laughs, and I heard a chorus of "ooohhhs" when someone asked him to compare the U.S. Attorneys scandal and the Saturday Night Massacre.

But that question took him to an interesting place. "What worries me as much as anything is a Democrat getting into office in 2009, looking at the machinery George W. Bush has left there, and saying 'I like this, I can use this.'" Crickets.

I wanted to ask Dean about Hillary (whom I think he was referring to) and Rudy Giuliani but only got time to ask about Rudy. "Giuliani and Thompson are so successful [in the polls] because they're the most authoritarian candidates. They're not the only ones, but they're easily the most authoritarian." Why isn't Giuliani's social liberalism cancelling that out? Republican voters overlook that stuff because they so badly want a strongman commander-in-chief.

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  1. But that question took him to an interesting place. “What worries me as much as anything is a Democrat getting into office in 2009, looking at the machinery George W. Bush has left there, and saying ‘I like this, I can use this.'” Crickets.

    Good to know at least someone is suggesting this possibility. I would not put it past Hillary and some of the partisan Democrats to basically say, “If its a Democrat thats expanding executive power, then its ok!”.

  2. That puppy joke is old as the hills. I heard it a few years back only it was Hillary and the puppies were democrats. I think it was originally told by Will Rogers.

  3. Cesar,

    Which is exactly why the partisan divide is an unreliable check on the growth of power.

  4. I honestly think that Dean’s idea has genuinely not occured to some liberals – not because they want a Democrat to use warrantless wiretapping, torture, and the use of the Justice Department’s prosecutorial powers to influence elections – but because they’ve been so focused on being against Bush and his initiatives that they haven’t given a great deal of thought to what’s going to happen when a Democrat comes into office.

  5. joe,

    Thus demonstrating again that we Americans are a hardheaded bunch that rarely learn from others’ mistakes. Clinton Hate? similarly blinded the GOP when it was its turn to misbehave.

    Sigh.

  6. And the Republicans, until recently, haven’t given a great deal of thought what would happen if Hillary Clinton became our next president. Back in 2002 and 2004 they thought “hey, we are going to have a majority for the next 30 years, so lets give the White House we control all the power it desires!”

    Maybe having Hillary using these powerful new tools they created will bring them back to their senses.

  7. I honestly think that Dean’s idea has genuinely not occured to some liberals – not because they want a Democrat to use warrantless wiretapping, torture, and the use of the Justice Department’s prosecutorial powers to influence elections – but because they’ve been so focused on being against Bush and his initiatives that they haven’t given a great deal of thought to what’s going to happen when a Democrat comes into office.

    I dunno if I buy this. I have seen a number of liberals saying they wouldn’t want a DEM president to have those powers, and I have seen a number of liberals debate with supporters of the strong executive say things like “would you feel the same way if a President Hillary had those same powers”

    As for the “Crickets”, I think we need to consider the audience. It’s YearlyKos for Christsakes. Most of the people there truly believe that the Dem candidates for the most wouldn’t use those powers and would try roll them back. In my view it’s naive, but that is the nature of partisans. They believe their guys and gals are the good ones.

  8. Chris Dodd is the only candidate I’ve seen commit to rolling back the powers of the office he’s seeking.

    Senator Dodd has filed a bill to amend the Military Commissions Act to forbid the use of torture (by whatever name), and to eliminate the President’s power to declare people “illegal enemy combatants” under his own authority.

  9. Some, ChiTom. I agree, some.

  10. I actually believe that a Dem president would be more reluctant to use those tools…at first. What would probably happen is that all uses of the tools would be suspended. Not ended, suspended. There’s a difference. Everything would be suspended “pending review”, during which time the Dems would make a point of not doing whatever Bush was doing.

    But the tools would not be dismantled. They’d tell themselves that it’s because they need to be tough on terrorism. Also, those tools do look so shiny, so precious…

    So they’d be retasked. For something. Dressed up differently.

    A few idiot Republicans would probably castigate President Hillary for not using the tools of George Bush…at first. “She’s not defending us from terrorists!”

    After a few months, those complaints would probably stop. But by then it will be too late.

    That’s my scary prediction.

  11. If the GOP chooses Guliania then the thread “Will America’s Conservatives Ever Feel Comfortable Voting for What they Are Supposed to Believe In?” will be answered…They would finally be the true blue War Party, nothing else matters…

  12. thoreau,

    I don’t agree at all. Unless we get a president with integrity or a particular concern for Constitutional issues–snicker–a president of either variety will do whatever he wants based on precedent. If he can get away with it, great!

    I see this as a fundamental problem with the way people view politics today. People who lean Democratic tend to view them as not so bad on civil liberties and not so bad on national security shenanigans. That’s false.

    On the flip side, people who lean to the GOP expect them to be all pro-business and less in love with government solutions. Also false.

  13. When you consider how little difference there is between the parties, and how power seems to be more reliably see-sawing between them (each party will get in power in a few years as the other abuses the power and pisses people off), I think that most partisans now see these presidential powers as a good thing.

    As in “at the next election, our guy will have them, so it’ll be great!”

    I’m sure there are some more principled people on both sides who see this as a bad thing, but I doubt you’re going to find them at Yearly Kos.

  14. It’s not just the “tools” that have been created under Bush that you have to worry about. The more troubling aspect (whether wielded by a Democrat or a Republican) is this whole “unitary executive” that seems to have a lot more power than the president that I remember from my high school civics class.

  15. A few idiot Republicans would probably castigate President Hillary for not using the tools of George Bush…at first. “She’s not defending us from terrorists!”

    Some people think that the Murrah building was brought down by an Iraqi agent (sometimes identified as John Doe #2). Some people think that TWA Flt 800 was brought down by terrorism.

    Perhaps the Clinton dynasty was, in fact, not protecting Americans from terrorism.

  16. So the YearlyKos attendees are partisan hacks. Next thread!

  17. Maybe having Hillary using these powerful new tools they created will bring them back to their senses.

    The Republicans will have no senses after 8 years at Gitmo on the waterboard..
    Hillary will make dissent a crime against the State. Her Dept of Education will force schools to teach that fire melts steel right along side compulsory homosexuality and atheism in our Public Gulags.Tyson will have a foies gras monopoloy.

  18. PL-

    I think there will be a ceremonial break from the previous administration, during which time the tools will be cleaned, polished, and redecorated before re-use. Inmates at Guantanamo will be sent to a legal black hole by some other name, an NSA program will be suspended and then re-opened with a new bureaucratic label (and perhaps signatures required for the new cover sheets on the TPS reports, to give that veneer of responsible oversight), etc.

    There will be a temporary illusion of ending the abuses of the old regime, mostly for the purposes of purging all the old regime loyalists and replacing them with new people. So you end a program, get rid of people you don’t like, then have your own people start it up under a different name.

    That’s my prediction. I’m not predicting principled behavior. I’m predicting a ceremonial break with the old regime while the Shadow reconstitutes itself in a different shape, before taking up the Ring again.

  19. I think the ratchet analogy applies. Any Democrat, even Hillary or Biden, will reduce the president’s power, but it will never go back to where it was before Bush.

    If this is your top issue, that leaves you with Paul or Richardson.

  20. I’ve been trying to wise up my redneck gun-nut friends using that kind of line. “Yeah, sure, you like it when G-Dubs is using these powers, but what about when Hillary gets her hands on the scepter?”

    Crickets.

    Is it inapropos to give a shout-out to Ron Paul?

    I find it instructive that the one scandal the new Dem majority in Congress is willing to pay attention to is the US Attorney sideshow.

    Not the TSA, nothing about Iraq, not Homeland Security (a phrase that still gives me the shivers), nothing serious about Iraq, nothing about accountability for Katrina, nothing about Iraq, did I already say “Nothing about Iraq”?

    Plato thought that the best government was an enlightened despot. The whole trick, of course, is how you make sure he’s enlightened. For years, at college and at law school and in the Marine Corps, I said that the key mistake made by the Warren Court in abrogating serious Constitutional reasoning was “Well, yes, that’s fine, as long as you can guarantee that ‘right thinking people’ like you will be making those decisions.”

    Hey, man, I keep hoping I’m wrong about Iraq, I keep hoping those WMD really do show up, I keep hoping that the President is really a good moral Christian whose only concern is protecting America and Americans . . . yeah, I keep right on hoping.

    What was it Samuel Johnson said about second marriages?

  21. thoreau,

    I doubt they’ll bother going to that much trouble. They’ll just do the same but say, “Hey, at least it’s not that awful, idiotic Bush. We have reasons for waterboarding these fellas.”

  22. Clinton Hate?

    ProLib wins the thread!

  23. I think the ratchet analogy applies. Any Democrat, even Hillary or Biden, will reduce increase the president’s power in PC-leaning directions, while putting the worst abuses by Bush in temporary abeyance, but it will never go back to where it was before Bush.

    Fixed that for you, joe.

    A friendly reminder — please use the PartisanScrub TM filter before sending your posts — it’s the key marked “del”, shorthand for “delightfully Trollfree TM”.

  24. Her Dept of Education will force schools to teach that fire melts steel…

    Back in 6th grade my teacher melted steel in fire. That was in the days of Nixon. Who would have thought that the 9/11 Conspiracy could reach so far back in time!

  25. How long ago was the “fixed that for you” bit funny?

    2002? 1997?

  26. Steel not only melts, it burns.

    *cue steel wool experiment *

  27. How long ago was the “fixed that for you” bit funny?

    2002? 1997?

    It stopped being funny the same time your “Gotta see Wapner” bit did.

    pwned!

  28. Uh, yeah, you really got me there. Ho ho!

  29. Does anybody think Ron Paul has a chance?

  30. How long ago was the “fixed that for you” bit funny?

    2002? 1997? Never

    There, fixed that for you, joe.

  31. Eh, all political pressure groups are oddly one-sided in the things they worry about, and Habeas Corpus has fewer friends than you might expect.

    I think most Americans are not opposed to the instruments of tyranny as much as they’re opposed to the [b]clumsy, blundering[/b] use of said instruments. We’ll bow down to Darth Vader, but not if he’s played by Rick Moranis.

  32. “If its a Democrat thats expanding executive power, then its ok!”.

    What amazes me is the people who actually expect the Democrats to be less zealous in their use of executive power.
    When did the Democratic party develop this new-found reputation for governmental restraint? Anything less than an expectation of “bigger government” from that party is, frankly, naive.

  33. When did the Democratic party develop this new-found reputation for governmental restraint?

    2002-2003.

    Seriously. This has been a history-making presidency, and it’s brought about a real reorientation of our political system.

    Anything less than an expectation of “bigger government” from that party is, frankly, naive.

    Balance of power issues are different from size of government issues.

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