- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2005

“GOP Tilting Balance Of Power to the Right,” proclaimed the page 1, column 1, above-the-fold headline in The Washington Post last Thursday. Hello? In which ideological direction did The Post expect a conservative, re-elected president and the most Republican Congress in half a century to steer the nation?

The “analysis,” written by Jim VandeHei, expressed shock over the conduct of the Bush presidency: “At the White House, Bush has tightened the reins on cabinet members, centralizing the most important decisions among a tight group of West Wing loyalists,” led by Vice President Dick Cheney. And why not? The president and the vice president, among the thousands of officials in the executive branch, represent 100 percent of those officials who were actually elected by the people after a year-long campaign.

The Post reports that the “top-down system in the White House” that the president has “constructed” amounts to “a virtual oligarchy,” according to “many scholars,” including the reliably anti-Bush Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University. The “virtual oligarchy” is said to comprise Mr. Cheney, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., along with “budget director Joshua Bolton [sic], himself and only a few others setting policy, while [the president] looks to Congress and the agencies mostly to promote and institute his policies.” And The Post’s point is … what?

Even more alarmingly, the GOP-controlled “White House and Congress are setting their sights on how to make the judiciary more deferential to the conservative cause,” The Post reports. Well, yes. However, considering that over the past half century Republican presidents have made such unfortunate Supreme Court appointments as Earl Warren, William Brennan, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens and David Souter, how else should a conservative president and Senate approach the courts?

Through a handful of tightly constrained “cabinet councils,” it is worth recalling, President Reagan and his White House staff successfully controlled the executive branch in pursuit of his policies. These included initiatives that won the Cold War and generated an extraordinary period of economic growth.

The Post alarmingly reports that GOP lawmakers “have voted with the president, on average, about nine out of 10 times.” So what? On the most combustible issue of the day — the unprecedented, systematic Democratic filibusters against 10 appellate-court nominees during the 108th Congress (2003-2004) — more than 94 percent of Senate Democrats voted to continue the filibusters. By the way, was The Post outraged when LBJ appointed staunch liberals Abe Fortas and Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court, and they tried to steer the nation in the opposite direction?

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