The Spectacle Blog


By on 12.20.05 | 10:31AM

Peter: You are entirely right. Part of the problem with Congress is that the president hasn't once attempted to induce some discipline in Congress's miscellaneous ramblings. It's entirely his fault that we now have the spectacle of the federal government paying for television converter boxes so people can watch digital tv. But the real problem here is Congressional irresponsibility, which Will denies and Willfully ignores. We have reached a stage at which this Congressional divorce from reality has become dangerous for the safety of the Republic. I think we need to beat them over the head with this every day from now 'till November '06.

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By on 12.20.05 | 9:57AM

Jed, as a follow up, this is classic Will ambiguity:

But conservatives' wholesome wariness of presidential power has been a casualty of conservative presidents winning seven of the last 10 elections.
George H.W. Bush and Richard Nixon, though very astute and worthy presidents in their own right (again, forgiving their major faults), haven't the conservative mark in history -- they were moderates. I'm not interested in gauging presidential status on the Conserv-O-Meter, but the argument Will is constructing here hinges on the assumption that these "conservative" presidents really clung to conservative principles, and as such really identified with the conservative movements that put them in power. You may be able to say that Nixon was, but only as an embattled president. Bush I is a harder case.

Will would be wrong to say the conservative appetite for limited government was sated by President Bush I's tenure; it was his trespass against his tax pledge that led to his downfall.

The only point that really kept me nodding was this line:

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Constitutional Abuses of Power

By on 12.20.05 | 9:39AM

It's always a hoot to watch Harry Reid whine. Take, for example, his complaining about the House attaching ANWR drilling to the Defense appropriations bill:

"This abuse of power will have long-term ramifications in this body, and is as bad or worse than anything ever attempted before, including the nuclear option," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, comparing the inclusion of ANWR on the defense spending bill to threatened efforts to prevent Democrats from using the filibuster option on the president's judicial nominees.

How's that for a good sense of proportion? The House amended a bill, passed it, and sent it to the Senate for approval. I remember seeing this somewhere before... Oh, right, in Article I, Section 7.

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Dick on the Spot

By on 12.20.05 | 9:33AM

Vice President Cheney's headed stateside from his surprise Middle East trip to be on hand for tie-breaking votes in the Senate, if necessary.

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By on 12.20.05 | 8:16AM

And while the Wall Street Journal helps get things right, George Will has joined the NYT's amen chorus, getting it most sincerely wrong.

Will's column in today's WaPo begins by charging the president with breaking the law and goes down hill from there at an ever-accelerating speed.

Will's worst point -- which makes me wonder which Washington he's been observing since 9-11 -- is that if the president wanted more power (carrying forward Will's comprehensively wrong assumption that the president needed more to do the domestic intel gathering) he could have asked Congress for it. And that the ever-compliant Congress would have obliged quickly. This is an argument that is, simply, insidious.

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The NSA hoo ha

By on 12.20.05 | 7:44AM

Thanks (today) to the WSJ editorial page for finally publishing the facts about the President's legal and constitutional authority to conduct warrantless searches: "The allegation of Presidential law-breaking rests solely on the fact that Mr. Bush authorized wiretaps without first getting the approval of the court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. But no Administration then or since has ever conceded that that Act trumped a President's power to make exceptions to FISA if national security required it. FISA established a process by which certain wiretaps in the context of the Cold War could be approved, not a limit on what wiretaps could ever be allowed.

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Cloning Hoax Case Grows Stronger

By on 12.20.05 | 7:18AM

Hwang Woo Suk claimed in his Science paper that the cells in a photograph were cloned embryonic stem cells; in a 2004 paper the photograph appeared labeled as cells created without cloning.

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Finally. Good News for Smokers

By on 12.19.05 | 9:56PM

Guess what food item has more antioxidants than herbal teas and fruits? That's right, chocolate! According to a new study, courtesy of, eat a daily helping of dark chocolate and you just might protect those arterties. The study comes just in time for Christmas, when smokers often endure year-end bad news (and the rantings of overprotective relatives) on the perils of inhaling.

Pair with wine and get double the antioxidants as well as double the not-so-guilty-anymore pleasure. Can anyone say New Year's Resolution?

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By on 12.19.05 | 7:06PM

Not so long ago, nearly everyone was writing off this presidency. Now ABC News reports the best approval ratings in six months. What a difference a few weeks can make in the poll numbers.

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