Columns » Hightower

Congressional betrayal


Bush's approval rating is down to a new low of 24 percent in the latest Zogby Poll. Before Democrats gloat, however, note that Congress' approval rating is down to brace yourself 11 percent.

If the Democratic leadership wonders why they score so low, they might whisper the name, Michael Mukasey. Bush's attorney general appointee was supposed to restore the rule of law to the politically prostituted justice department, but he stumbled at his Senate hearing by refusing to say whether waterboarding is illegal torture, even though it clearly is a war crime under both U.S. and international law. Mukasey also asserted that Bush has the autocratic authority to ignore or negate any particular law a direct affront to Congress and the rule of law.

Yet the Democratic Congress didn't say no to Mukasey's nomination. Indeed, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein led the way to approve him, allowing Bush, once again, to trump both the rule of law and the public will. The two Democrats zeroed in on the waterboarding issue, meekly saying that Mukasey assured them in private that if Congress passes a bill outlawing this method of torture, he would uphold it.

Hello ... senators waterboarding is already outlawed! Plus, if you pass another law to "re-outlaw" it, Bush will either veto it or ignore it. And if Mukasey won't go public with his private "pledge" to you, why on Earth would you believe him?

Meanwhile, what about Mukasey's much more audacious assertion that the president can subvert the laws of our land, thus making Congress subservient to the executive branch? Bad enough that congressional leaders wouldn't take a firm stand on torture, but how pathetic that they so easily surrendered their own constitutional powers to Bush.

The Democratic Congress' approval rating is so low because ... well, it deserves it for so gutlessly betraying us. Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale now from Viking Press. For more information, visit jimhightower. com.

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