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US Presidents on Presidential Power 228

Tod Landis writes "Responding to George Bush's statement that he will preserve executive power for his "predecessors", I've assembled a collection of quotes from those predecessors. Most saw executive power differently..."
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US Presidents on Presidential Power

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  • One word (Score:2, Funny)

    by redog ( 574983 )
    Poetateoe
  • by Anonymous Coward

    politics.slashdot.org = Bush Bashing?


    Smooth. :-/
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @04:36PM (#10333732) Homepage Journal
    What, has slashdot become so anti-Bush that we're taking plain text documents written by the submitter as "news" in the politics section now?

    While I admit this is a good resource, the predecessor mistake was *YEARS* ago- this is hardly new or any more relevant than yet another "Bush is an idiot" post. Those of us who care about intelligence in a president already know Bush is an idiot- those who don't care just like the fact that they've got a president with the same intelligence and learning disabilities that they have. This issue isn't going to change anybody's vote one way or the other.
    • So, where's the nerdish reason to vote for Bush?

    • Since when has "plain text" ceased to be a suitable medium for news? Do we only accept something as newsworthy if the text is full of hyperlinks and wrapped around animated ads?
    • Yeah, this has to be the dumbest story I've seen in awhile. Especially since Congress did approve the war. Tod Landis wrote, "Before 1950, no President or member of Congress believed that the executive branch could wage war without debate in Congress, when such debate was possible." But we know the Congress did debate it, and most of Congress voted for it (including Kerry), and it was passed. This is just retarded.
  • Come on... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the darn ( 624240 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @04:37PM (#10333746) Homepage
    I'm no fan of the Dub, but any collection of quotes can easily manipulated to suit your viewpoint via selection bias. It would be better to examine the actions previous presidents took with regard to defending the presidential "turf."
  • by avi33 ( 116048 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @04:40PM (#10333780) Homepage
    These quotes seem to suggest it's unconstitutional for anyone other than Congress to declare war.

    Congress still has (and did have) the right to declare war, and they turned it over to Bush to use at his disposal. (In theory, at least, I don't think he actually declared anything.)

    Why not a collection of quotes about how Congresspeople are lemmings?

    gears? we don't need no stinking gears. [usrnull.com]
    • Just because "Congress still has" the right doesn't change the fact that before the (never declared) Korean war the Congress was the -only- body that could do so.

      Since Truman involved the US in the Korean war, presidents have simply bypassed the intent of the Constitution by no officially declaring war. Instead they invoke military police actions or similar.

      The War Powers act in 1973 tried to change this, but so far the legality and constitutionality of both has not changed.

      Fact of the matter is, befor
      • Since 1950 it has been assumed that declaring war is red tape and can be bypassed.

        All laws are just red tape which can be bypassed. We attribute character to those who choose to not just bypass them.

        Back in the 80's, some news weekly ran a story about drug dealers in a major city, and how the size of their "businesses" (measured by gross volume) would make some of them qualified to run medium-to-large businesses. That statement stuck with me, because it completely missed the point. Sure it's easier to

    • You're absolutely right. Almost every member of the US Congress voted to give the President a blank check on this issue. Regardless of declarations, they granted him the power to mobilize soldiers and conduct combat as he saw fit. The President took us into a needless war. Boo on him. Congress allowed him to do it, boo on everybody.
    • Just because you have a power doesn't mean you have the ability to hand that power over to another person. The US Constitution is, AFAIK, silent on the issue of whether Congress can delegate its power to declare war. Public officials or bodies charged to carry out such important and solemn constitutional duties shouldn't be allowed to pass the buck so easily.
  • by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @04:41PM (#10333803) Journal
    Can someone please provide context for that quote by Bush?

    I can only find quotes of that individual sentence. I can't even tell what executive powers he says he's preserving, so, as a raving liberal, I can't even tell why this quote means I should hate Bush.

    What executive powers?
    • Here is the full text of the quote from http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20010129-7 .html [whitehouse.gov]: Q: Why did you decide not to challenge the Clinton pardon, sir? THE PRESIDENT: Oh, on Marc Rich? First of all, I didn't agree with the decision. I would not have made that decision myself. But the ability for a president to make decisions is -- a decision on pardons, is inviolate, as far as I'm concerned. It's an important part of the office. I am mindful not only of preserving executive powers for mysel
  • I can do the same. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nes11 ( 767888 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @04:43PM (#10333831)
    I'm sitting here with a book on my desk call "Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents" by Richard E. Neustadt. Perhaps you should read it. It's very easy to pick & choose random quotes & show an agreement that's really not there. Give me a few minutes & I could create a list of quotes that shows that Bush has a very conservative view of President Power.

    In case you're seriously interested, a few other good books are
    "The Paradox of the American Presidency" by Thomas E. Cronin
    and
    "The Ferocious Engine of Democracy" (2 volumes) by Michael P. Riccards.
  • Truman had major runins concerning the Korean war. He wanted to preserve exactly the same thing as Bush. Does it make it right? Probably not. Is it OT for slashdot? Definitely.
  • by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @04:44PM (#10333846) Journal
    Is the the Politics section of /. or the Kerry cheering section? I thought that the editors said they would have a balanced selection of stories in this section?

    WTF has happened to /.? I wish they would hurry up and close the pending sale.
  • Oh, come on now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CXI ( 46706 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @04:47PM (#10333881) Homepage
    Doesn't CmdrTaco have a personal blog somewhere to bash Bush instead of doing so on what was once a good news site?

    Not only are the quotes out of context, but they are used in error. [jsonline.com] Furthermore, congress hasn't declared war since WWII, so it's hard to pretend that Bush doesn't have any precedent if he did go in without approval. Of course, there was approval so this whole "news story" is a farce. Way to go and pull a Dan Rather. At least he finally had to apologize.
    • mod parent up, please. I seriously thought the Politics sectioon might be good, but it's become a farce. This one's pretty ridiculous, though not quite as much as the "Republicans are going to outlaw elections" story the other week (submitted by "Marxist Hacker", of course).

      I rarely complain about Slashdot articles.. dupes, spelling and grammar errors, whatever, those aren't a big deal. But this is just too much.
    • Particularly because you can't remove it from your home page. Unfortunately, my bugzilla to fix this was ignored [sourceforge.net].
    • We need to re-instate congress into the war approval process. The reason the executive branch has been able to use this power since WWII is because no president has been punished for its abuse. I'm not saying that we should punish this president for going into war, as we had plenty of precident to use force without a declaration of war, but perhaps this country needs to look into stiffer punishments for presidents who use force without declarations of war.
  • Humph (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elmegil ( 12001 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @04:48PM (#10333901) Homepage Journal
    Can we mod an entire article as -1 flamebait? Please? And I don't even like the shrub....
    • I agree. The source article is flamebait and not news for nerds. Out of context usage of quotes to mislead people is not news, and most nerds should be intelligent enough to realize that such quotes have an information value of zero.

      Where is the metamoderator option to mark CmdrTaco as being tediously left leaning with a terrible taste in stories?

  • Notice that there are no quotes that occurred in the last 30 years. I'm pretty sure that when Bush refers to his predecessors, he's thinking more of Clinton/Bush/Reagan/Carter, not Washington/Adams/Jefferson.
    • Notice that there are no quotes that occurred in the last 30 years. I'm pretty sure that when Bush refers to his predecessors, he's thinking more of Clinton/Bush/Reagan/Carter, not Washington/Adams/Jefferson.

      I think he, Bush, isn't as familiar with the first group as he is with the second. Congress alone has the power to declare war, that's why you see modern American wars called anything but that. Police Actions? Use it in a sentence? Yes, history recalls the tragic mistake of the "Vietnam Police A
    • Now that I've gone back and reread the "story" write-up, I realize that the main point is apparently that Bush misspoke when he said predecessors and meant postdecessors (or whatever the word would be).
  • Whoa! (Score:5, Informative)

    by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @04:49PM (#10333916)
    This article has nothing to do with "executive power".

    The President has the power to write "Executive Orders". These were meant to be used as quick action rules to act on certain situations before congress and the Senate could debate and decide on a proper strategy (because committees are slow).

    Congress has been trying to restrict those abilities and THAT'S what Bush is defending.

    WAR POWERS (which W is NOT talking about in his quote) are a still hotly debated topic. Executive Orders can be used to facilitate combat (as has been done with Iraq) but the President has combat powers above and beyond the Executive Orders so restricting those doesn't necessarily stop the other.

    Bush is not the first to have done this. Clinton did it with Bosnia, Bush Sr. did it with Panama, Reagan did it with Grenada, etc;

    The whole power structure of wars, waging wars, military action, etc is still a hotly debated topic in congress and this article does no justice in bringing out the real issues.
    • Re:Whoa! (Score:3, Informative)

      No, as pointed out by this post [slashdot.org], he was defending the executive power to grant presidential pardons:

      Q Why did you decide not to challenge the Clinton pardon, sir?

      THE PRESIDENT: Oh, on Marc Rich? First of all, I didn't agree with the decision. I would not have made that decision myself. But the ability for a president to make decisions is -- a decision on pardons, is inviolate, as far as I'm concerned. It's an important part of the office. I am mindful not only of preserving e

    • Though I agree that this article is rather lame, Bush is *not* simply trying to defend his ability to write executive orders or his war-declaration powers (which are in fact hotly debated). His administration has a clear policy of silence on matters where it should be open. One o the most obnoxious examples of this is in Cheney's refusal to hand over the conversations on energy policy with the Enron folks. The Bush Administration claims it has executive privilege on those documents, no matter their impropri

  • Perhaps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @04:52PM (#10333945) Journal
    Not that editors would ever listen to any readers, but -- if you're going to have a politics section, how about using it to focus on issues of technology, science, engineering, space, education,... instead of just dumping a bucket of gasoline on everyone every few hours? Lord knows, I've spent enough of the last few weeks squabbling about vertical spacing on 1970's IBM Selectrics and even I recognize the last two stories as pointless, content-free flamebait.

    Oh, well. At least the color scheme here doesn't make you blind.

  • It would be nice to see the context of each quote.

    For my part, I simply added the following grain of salt: Consider that when quoted perhaps the president in question was actively trying to avoid making a decision on going war.

    It then becomes a way to avoid getting the president involved in a discussion which he does not wish to comment on.

    I see little value in this list of quotes. Did the "researcher" also look into the opposite view from those same presidents? While it's nice to have a little
  • by Fished ( 574624 ) <amphigoryNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @04:56PM (#10334002)

    A confused George Bush once said "I am mindful not only of preserving executive powers for myself, but for my predecessors as well". Here is a sampler of what those predecessors had to say about the war powers.

    And I have gone to the trouble of examining each quote only to find it misapplied.

    "The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until they shall have deliberated upon the subject, and authorized such a measure. " George Washington

    You mean that Bush should have ... gotten congressional authority before he went to war? You mean ... like he did in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    "Congress must be called upon to take [reprisal on a nation]; the right of reprisal being expressly lodged with them by the Constitution, and not with the Executive". Thomas Jefferson

    "You mean that Bush should have ... gotten congressional authority before he went to war? You mean ... like he did in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

    "Whether the United States shall continue passive under these progressive usurpations and these accumulating wrongs, or, opposing force to force in defense of their national rights, shall commit a just cause into the hands of the Almighty Disposer of Events ... is a solemn question which the Constitution wisely confides to the legislative department of the Government" James Madison

    "You mean that Bush should have ... gotten congressional authority before he went to war? You mean ... like he did in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

    "Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems in necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure." Abraham Lincoln

    "You mean that Bush should have ... gotten congressional authority before he went to war? You mean ... like he did in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

    "By an act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress, the Government of a feeble but friendly and confiding people has been overthrown. A substantial wrong has thus been done..." Grover Cleveland

    "You mean that Bush should have ... gotten congressional authority before he went to war? You mean ... like he did in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

    "The remedy for this state of things can only be supplied by Congress, since the Constitution has confided to that body alone the power to make war." James Buchanan

    "You mean that Bush should have ... gotten congressional authority before he went to war? You mean ... like he did in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

    "The issue [of war with Spain] is now with the Congress. ... Prepared to execute every obligation imposed upon me by the Constitution and the law, I await your action" William McKinley

    "You mean that Bush should have ... gotten congressional authority before he went to war? You mean ... like he did in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

    "The assumption by the press that I contemplate intervention in Mexico soil to protect American lives is of course gratuitous, because I seriously doubt whether I have such authority under any circumstances, and if I had I would not exercise it without congressional approval" Howard Taft

    "You mean that Bush should have ... gotten congressional authority before he went to war? You mean ... like he did in Iraq and Afg

  • by Nagatzhul ( 158676 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @04:57PM (#10334013)
    authorized Bush to go after Iraq. He did not make the choice on his own. The House of Representatives voted 296-133 in favor and the Senate voted 77-23 in favor. How was this a unilateral decision on Bush's part?

    More Bush Bashing on /.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Both the Senate and House of Reps.... authorized Bush to go after Iraq.

      They authorized him to make the decision. He made the bad decision by himself.

    • Congress authorized the President to use military force in Iraq if necessary. Bush was savvy enough to set the bar for "if necessary" very, very low, and Congress was gullible enough to fall for it.

      Your tax dollars at work.

    • They did not tell Bush to go after anyone. They gave them the authority to declare war if he felt it was needed. If he did, then he had to justify going to war to congress.

      From http://www.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/10/11/iraq.us/ [cnn.com]
      The resolution requires Bush to declare to Congress either before or within 48 hours after beginning military action that diplomatic efforts to enforce the U.N. resolutions have failed.

      Bush also must certify that action against Iraq would not hinder efforts to pursue the al Qaed
  • Despite my consummate dislike for Bush (Sr, Jr, whatever), I don't read the same "Bushism" into his statement. You have to consider that Presidents, whether in power or out of power, have quite a lot of executive protection that extends well past their term(s) in office. I suggest that perhaps Bush was simply stating that he intended to protect these extended post-term executive powers. This is actually a fairly common statement, since the current president would want the same treatment once he/she is no l
    • Yep, you're right. He was referring to something else entirely. Somebody posted it as a reply to a request for clarification here:

      http://politics.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=12 2 91 7&cid=10334640

      But the quote is from

      http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20010129 -7 .html

      Q Why did you decide not to challenge the Clinton pardon, sir?

      THE PRESIDENT: Oh, on Marc Rich? First of all, I didn't agree with the decision. I would not have made that decision myself. But the abi
  • OK, in the case of Bush Jr, Congress gave him the power to wage war in Iraq. Here are some examples of "war" that wasn't declared by Congress.

    Eisenghower - Korea
    Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon - Vietnam
    Reagan - Greneda
    Clinton - Bosnia
  • Call for civility (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jgardn ( 539054 ) <jgardn@alumni.washington.edu> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @06:04PM (#10334756) Homepage Journal
    I am getting quite tired of the baseless claims that people are making. We complain and complain because of the poison that is in politics. Well, let's get our act together and fix it.

    Starting right now, let's all be a lot more civil.

    Despite our political differences, we are all countrymen, in the national sense and in the sense that we all live in this world. We should respect each other and never ever attack someone's character. Let their actions speak for their character. People will be smart enough to judge for themselves. This includes everyone from John Kerry to George Bush to Saddam Hussein down to everybody in this forum.

    We are all able to share our opinions. When we do, let's be clear by prefacing such statements with "I believe" or "I think" or "My opinion is". Let's never ever try to represent opinion as fact.

    When we do discuss fact and logic, let's be very careful to get things right the first time. Quote your sources accurately.

    The way you attack factual and logical arguments is by attacking the individual claims. For instance, if I claimed that Sadr City is now peaceful, you would attack that claim by showing me reports that it is not. You wouldn't attack that claim by calling me a liar.

    If you want to end the poison in politics, you end it with yourself first. Here are my points again.

    1. NEVER attack a person or their character.

    2. ALWAYS preface your opinions with "It is my opinion that..." or "I feel that...".

    3. ALWAYS support claims of fact with evidence, and always quote that evidence accurately. Show your logic in clear steps.

    4. ALWAYS attack the claims and the logical steps people make with more or contrary evidence.

    • No (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rufus88 ( 748752 )
      ALWAYS preface your opinions with "It is my opinion that..." or "I feel that...".

      Not "I feel that...". Rather, "I think that". Opinions are not feelings. Emotions are feelings. People say "I feel that..." when they know their opinions are on shaky ground, because people don't have to justify "feelings". You're entitled to feel however you want to about something and there's no wrong way to "feel". But thoughts and opinions can be disputed and shown to be wrong, so people try to let their thoughts off the
      • People tend to have emotional reactions FIRST and then their brains kick in and try to paint it as "logical" by rationalizing it.

        Not to mention that most people pick up their political views the same place (and the same way) they pick up their religion. At home.

        So when you disagree with someone's political position, you are attacking his place in the world and everything he's been taught is good and right and holy.

        That's why attack ads are so popular. They WORK and they work WELL. They play to the fundam
    • Not that I think it will really make any difference, but thanks for posting that.

      The whole political debate seems to have become nothing but ad hominems, and presenting opinions as facts.

      Sometimes I tell people they should phrase their opinions as such, and they often say "Why should I? Everything I write is my opinion, that should be obvious".
  • The word is "Successors", right? He wanted to preserve them for his successors.

    There must be some kind of bi-partisan time-travel scheeme at work here. Or maybe that episode from Futurama with Nixon's head is becomming reality. That would be so cool! Go mechs!
    • Well, he actually didn't mean successors at all. He was referring to something Clinton had done. Somebody posted the info as a reply to a request for clarification here:

      http://politics.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=12 2 91 7&cid=10334640

      But the quote is from

      http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20010129 -7 .html

      Q Why did you decide not to challenge the Clinton pardon, sir?

      THE PRESIDENT: Oh, on Marc Rich? First of all, I didn't agree with the decision. I w
    • Like a lot of that story, things are taken out of context. I also believed this was some Bush slip-of-the-tongue util I saw the actual post here. He really was referring to Clinton, and unless he expects Clinton to be re-elected after him, Clinton is a predecessor!
  • "We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us." --
    Abraham Lincoln [nps.gov], 1864
  • One Russian boomer off the coast of New York can render the eastern seaboard uninhabitible in five minutes. Waiting around for congress to vote to declare war would get us all killed.

    There's a good reason the power has shifted over time.
    • Aiieee! The boomers are coming! The boomers are coming!

      Sound the alarm! Bring out our boomers! Yeah, even the baby boomers!
      • Actually boomer = nuclear missile submarine. Like the Typhoon (remember "the hunt for Red October?). However the grandparent is still BSing; the cold war is over and the policies that made sense then are no longer sound.

        Nothing, and I do mean _nothing_, the president of the united states can do in five minutes will make the slightest difference in the "war on terror". The conflict at the moment is over civilians launching terror attacks against targets on US (and other nations) soil. Really the people
        • Nothing, and I do mean _nothing_, the president of the united states can do in five minutes will make the slightest difference in the "war on terror".

          Au Contraire Monfrer! Our glorious leader spent the five minutes after he learned we were under attack reading "My Pet Goat" to schoolchildren. The teacher has gone on record as saying he made the right decision to continue reading, because if he had jumped into action right then and there, the children might have been scared! All you cheese eating surre
  • The source code is free, right?

    Someone should use it to create a politically right tech news site.

    Wait, forget politically right. I'd just be happy with a site that was neutral.
  • WTF? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Okay, so there's a bunch of quotes from previous United States Presidents about how the president can only send troops to war if Congress has approved such military action.

    Exactly as they did in the case of Iraq.

    As one Senator in particular put it, in a September 2002 New York times op-ed, "If Saddam Hussein is unwilling to bend to the international community's already existing order, then he will have invited enforcement... even if that enforcement is mostly at the hands of the United States, a right we

  • HUH? (Score:4, Funny)

    by arkham6 ( 24514 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @07:30PM (#10335557)
    Did i accidentaly type cbs.slashdot.org instead of politics.slashdot.org?

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.

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