Yoo, as in Stoopid
|Consider this part of our ongoing series exploring correspondences between early modern politics and the presidency of George W. Bush.|
In today's New York Times, John Yoo, UC-Berkeley law professor and totalitarian theorist, offers a jaw-droppingly curious view of the national security situation faced by the U.S. in the 1970s:
The changes of the 1970’s occurred largely because we had no serious national security threats to United States soil, but plenty of paranoia in the wake of Richard Nixon’s use of national security agencies to spy on political opponents. Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution, which purports to cut off presidential uses of force abroad after 60 days. It passed the Budget and Impoundment Act to eliminate the modest presidential power to rein in wasteful spending. The Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act required the government to get a warrant from a special court to conduct wiretapping for national security reasons.Four letters: U.S.S.R.
This sentence is another winner:
The White House has declared that the Constitution allows the president to sidestep laws that invade his executive authority. That is why Mr. Bush has issued hundreds of signing statements — more than any previous president — reserving his right not to enforce unconstitutional laws.Oh, yes, I love the justly famous "sidestep-the-law" provision in the Constitution. Even the grammar of Yoo's sentence is revealing. If the Constitution allows "sidestepping" the law, then why has the White House had to declare it? If Yoo's statement were true, then couldn't he have written his sentence this way: "The Constitution allows the president to break laws that invade his executive authority"?
So, let's turn back to early modern England. Who would have been the John Yoo of Charles I's court? In other words, who was the pre-eminent Caroline legal theorist and apologist? The Earl of Strafford?
Update: as Hieronimo points out in comments, John Finch is a much better analogue.