Sunday, June 24, 2007

This observation will be lost in the white noise, but, what the heck

The flap over Cheney's compliance with Executive Order is an interesting one not only because it reveals Cheney's machinations. It reveals the attitude of the President, too.

As Ron Elving noted on NPR this morning, Cheney's argument that he is the President of the Senate, and therefore not a member of the Executive branch under the meaning of the Executive Order, actually means Cheney is obligated to follow the laws governing the Legislative Branch as well as the Executive Branch. And the Executive Order is not law; it is regulation. The President has no power to pass a law; he has the executive power to administer them, which is why all agencies of the federal government, such as the National Archives, promulgate regulations which determine how the law is to be implemented. This regulatory power is overseen by Congress, who can change the law to change the regulations as it sees fit. Executive Orders apply only to the Executive Branch, but they do not override federal law.

So, when Dana Perino says: "that Bush, not the National Archives, was the 'sole enforcer' of the executive order relating to classified information," she's wrong. Bush does not have discretion as to the enforcement of that law; he only has authority to regulate compliance with the law, and even that authority is bounded by the parameters of the law itself. Bush & Cheney are not a mutually reinforcing fourth branch of government. But it may be this very small matter which makes clear to a majority of the American public that they believe they are.

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