Attorney General William Barr has proven time and again that he is a true patriot who cowers before no man.
His place in history as a freedom fighter was permanently cemented last week when he gave a speech to the Federalist Society about the assault on the presidency by the supposedly co-equal branches. Barr devoted part of his analysis to the judiciary, but it is his notes on the congressional power grab that is most immediately relevant as we watch a president be impeached for policy disagreements.
Barr’s analysis is so good that various voices on the left have demanded that he too now be impeached.
That’s because — unlike his predecessor Jeff Sessions — Barr doesn’t give a damn about what anyone else says about him. He is guided by his own estimation of right and wrong, not by political correctness or political calculations.
Therefore, it should have come as no surprise to anyone that Barr delivered a powerful rebuke of the left’s rejection of the rule of law in their refusal to accept the result of the 2016 election,
Barr was invited to speak on the theme of “originalism,” interpreting the Constitution as originally written. He chose to address “the Constitution’s approach to executive power,” a topic of special concern as the Congress is claiming the right to impeach a president over political disagreements.
Barr’s argument that the Founders envisioned a strong executive who would be able to stand independent of the Congress and judiciary is compelling. It set the stage for his remarkable analysis of the attempted coup against President Trump. He doesn’t call it an attempted coup, but he might as well have.
“Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called “The Resistance,” and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver available to sabotage the functioning of his Administration. Now, “resistance” is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power. It obviously connotes that the government is not legitimate. This is a very dangerous – indeed incendiary – notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic. What it means is that, instead of viewing themselves as the “loyal opposition,” as opposing parties have done in the past, they essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.”
This perfectly states the absurd situation confronting President Trump for the entire tenure of his presidency. He has been continually under siege by Democrats who have refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of his election and have used the tools of government as political weapons to damage and hinder him.
“A prime example of this is the Senate’s unprecedented abuse of the advice-and-consent process. … As of September of this year, the Senate had been forced to invoke cloture on 236 Trump nominees — each of those representing its own massive consumption of legislative time meant only to delay an inevitable confirmation. How many times was cloture invoked on nominees during President Obama’s first term? 17 times. The Second President Bush’s first term? Four times. It is reasonable to wonder whether a future President will actually be able to form a functioning administration if his or her party does not hold the Senate.”
Barr also exposes to sunlight the increasing tendency of Congress NOT to “legislate” but rather to “insulate” by putting policy in the hands of unelected bureaucrats.
“They [member of Congress] either decline to legislate on major questions or, if they do, punt the most difficult and critical issues by making broad delegations to a modern administrative state that they increasingly seek to insulate from Presidential control.”
It also has resulted in the invention of a new purpose of Congress, a purpose which I have argued elsewhere is at the very least extra-constitutional if not UN-constitutional — namely the “oversight” role. Here’s Barr’s take on this attempt to restrict the president
“Of course, Congress’s effective withdrawal from the business of legislating leaves it with a lot of time for other pursuits. And the pursuit of choice, particularly for the opposition party, has been to drown the Executive Branch with “oversight” demands for testimony and documents. I do not deny that Congress has some implied authority to conduct oversight as an incident to its Legislative Power. But the sheer volume of what we see today – the pursuit of scores of parallel “investigations” through an avalanche of subpoenas – is plainly designed to incapacitate the Executive Branch, and indeed is touted as such.”
Barr explains that the tightening noose on the executive branch includes congressionally mandated exposure of private deliberations in all executive departments while maintaining secrecy in Congress and the courts. It is also apparent in the weakening of executive privilege in general. At this point, Barr again takes on the Democratic Resistance directly:
“One of the ironies of today is that those who oppose this President constantly accuse this Administration of “shredding” constitutional norms and waging a war on the rule of law. When I ask my friends on the other side, what exactly are you referring to? I get vacuous stares, followed by sputtering about the Travel Ban or some such thing. While the President has certainly thrown out the traditional Beltway playbook, he was upfront about that beforehand, and the people voted for him. What I am talking about today are fundamental constitutional precepts. The fact is that this Administration’s policy initiatives and proposed rules, including the Travel Ban, have transgressed neither constitutional, nor traditional, norms, and have been amply supported by the law and patiently litigated through the Court system to vindication.”
And at this point, Barr delivers the coup de grace as he takes on progressive ideology directly and correctly assesses that they have co-opted for themselves extraordinary powers that they would never grant to conservatives willingly.
“The fact of the matter is that, in waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of “Resistance” against this Administration, it is the Left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law. …. In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion. Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection. Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end. They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications. They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides.”
That puts conservatives at a huge disadvantage. For just such a reason, I admit I never expected to hear any public official ever speak openly about the progressive overreach inherent in our modern government. Again, Jeff Sessions is a perfect example of the timidity we have come to expect from both elected and appointed conservatives. Barr himself acknowledges this:
“… conservatives tend to have more scruple over their political tactics and rarely feel that the ends justify the means. And this is as it should be, but there is no getting around the fact that this puts conservatives at a disadvantage when facing progressive holy far, especially when doing so under the weight of a hyper-partisan media.”
That’s where we are now, folks. You can read Barr’s indictment of the activist judiciary for yourself, but I think it is clear that he perceives a clear and present danger to the Constitution in the ongoing impeachment hoax. Now, what are we going to do about it?
You can read or watch Barr’s full speech here.
WHO WE ARE
Frank Miele has spent four decades in the news business and now offers conservative commentary to counter the left-wing bias in the national media. If you enjoy reading these daily essays, I hope you will consider purchasing one of my books. They are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. My new book — “The Media Matrix: What if everything you know is fake?” — shows that Fake News has been around for years. The “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy tackles the politics of the last two decades: Part 1 is subtitled “Bush’s Global Failure: Half Right.” Part 2 is “Obama’s Fundamental Transformation: Far Left.” Part 3 is “Trump’s American Vision: Just Right.” Also consider subscribing to Heartland Diary on YouTube by clicking here for News Every Conservative Can Use.