<\body> Stories in America: Gore Blasts Bush, Stands Up for the Constitution

Monday, January 16, 2006

Gore Blasts Bush, Stands Up for the Constitution

Gore's speech is worth reading, especially if you're a Republican.

The sharp decline of congressional power and autonomy in recent years has been almost as shocking as the efforts by the Executive Branch to attain a massive expansion of its power.

I was elected to Congress in 1976 and served eight years in the house, 8 years in the Senate and presided over the Senate for 8 years as Vice President. As a young man, I saw the Congress first hand as the son of a Senator. My father was elected to Congress in 1938, 10 years before I was born, and left the Senate in 1971.

The Congress we have today is unrecognizable compared to the one in which my father served. There are many distinguished Senators and Congressmen serving today. I am honored that some of them are here in this hall. But the legislative branch of government under its current leadership now operates as if it is entirely subservient to the Executive Branch.

Moreover, too many Members of the House and Senate now feel compelled to spend a majority of their time not in thoughtful debate of the issues, but raising money to purchase 30 second TV commercials.

There have now been two or three generations of congressmen who don't really know what an oversight hearing is. In the 70's and 80's, the oversight hearings in which my colleagues and I participated held the feet of the Executive Branch to the fire - no matter which party was in power. Yet oversight is almost unknown in the Congress today.

The role of authorization committees has declined into insignificance. The 13 annual appropriation bills are hardly ever actually passed anymore. Everything is lumped into a single giant measure that is not even available for Members of Congress to read before they vote on it.

Members of the minority party are now routinely excluded from conference committees, and amendments are routinely not allowed during floor consideration of legislation.

In the United States Senate, which used to pride itself on being the "greatest deliberative body in the world," meaningful debate is now a rarity. Even on the eve of the fateful vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd famously asked: "Why is this chamber empty?"

In the House of Representatives, the number who face a genuinely competitive election contest every two years is typically less than a dozen out of 435.

And too many incumbents have come to believe that the key to continued access to the money for re-election is to stay on the good side of those who have the money to give; and, in the case of the majority party, the whole process is largely controlled by the incumbent president and his political organization.

So the willingness of Congress to challenge the Administration is further limited when the same party controls both Congress and the Executive Branch.

The Executive Branch, time and again, has co-opted Congress' role, and often Congress has been a willing accomplice in the surrender of its own power.

Look for example at the Congressional role in "overseeing" this massive four year eavesdropping campaign that on its face seemed so clearly to violate the Bill of Rights. The President says he informed Congress, but what he really means is that he talked with the chairman and ranking member of the House and Senate intelligence committees and the top leaders of the House and Senate. This small group, in turn, claimed that they were not given the full facts, though at least one of the intelligence committee leaders handwrote a letter of concern to VP Cheney and placed a copy in his own safe.

Though I sympathize with the awkward position in which these men and women were placed, I cannot disagree with the Liberty Coalition when it says that Democrats as well as Republicans in the Congress must share the blame for not taking action to protest and seek to prevent what they consider a grossly unconstitutional program.

Moreover, in the Congress as a whole-both House and Senate-the enhanced role of money in the re-election process, coupled with the sharply diminished role for reasoned deliberation and debate, has produced an atmosphere conducive to pervasive institutionalized corruption.

The Abramoff scandal is but the tip of a giant iceberg that threatens the integrity of the entire legislative branch of government.

It is the pitiful state of our legislative branch which primarily explains the failure of our vaunted checks and balances to prevent the dangerous overreach by our Executive Branch which now threatens a radical transformation of the American system.

I call upon Democratic and Republican members of Congress today to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution. Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you're supposed to be.


At 1/16/2006 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently Al doesn't *do* shame....


At 1/16/2006 7:44 PM, Anonymous spy said...

Why do you post here? Gore's speech was excellent and applauded by both liberals and conservatives. Face reality...or I'll tell Bush to spy on you.

At 1/16/2006 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to engage you with ideas which are inconvenient to your narrative.

I guess I'm just wondering why Gore, The New York Times, and all you good Constitution Supporting Liberals were so tolerent of "spying" back in 1999.

Please, spare me your outrage. History doesn't afford you any pious moralizing so stop waving the flag and the Constitution -- it makes you look an awful lot like Pat Robertson waving the Bible.


At 1/16/2006 11:10 PM, Anonymous spy said...

Wake up, apologist. The left is never happy. They protest Pelosi when she's in town, you know that LIBERAL from San Francisco. You don't leave a name here, but you always defend Bush and his bullshit. What's the point?

At 1/17/2006 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The left is never happy"

Now there's a marketing slogan for the Dems to run on. Pure genius. Gotta hand it to you Spy, the truth-in-advertising angle totally rocks.

Hell, where do I sign up!?

At 1/17/2006 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The left and the extreme right (John Birch Society) -- on the same page again:

Nancy Pelosi rates a zero.

At 1/17/2006 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would someone please give Bush a blowjob so we can impeach him once and for all?

At 1/18/2006 8:57 PM, Anonymous george Clooney said...

The conservative Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, joined by right-wing leaders including Grover Norquist and Paul Weyrich, yesterday called on Congress to hold hearings on the President's illegal spying. "Public hearings on this issue are essential to addressing the serious concerns raised by alarming revelations of NSA electronic eavesdropping," said Norquist.

At 1/18/2006 10:29 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

Who is this "Al Gore" you speak of?


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