What Would Livia Do? (WWLD)

Via War and Piece, the Guardian interviews HRC on presidential power:

Hillary Clinton would launch a policy review as president with an eye towards giving up some of the executive powers accumulated by George Bush, she tells Guardian America in an interview today. . . Ms Clinton said the president and Dick Cheney both had taken actions “beyond any power the Congress would have granted” and – even when congressional authorisation was possible – chosen not to pursue it “as a matter of principle”.

“The power grab undertaken by the Bush-Cheney administration has gone much further than any other president and has been sustained for longer,” she said. “Other presidents, like Lincoln, have had to take on extraordinary powers but would later go to Congress for either ratification or rejection.”


Ms Clinton said the accumulation of executive power had put America into “new territory” because Mr Bush and the vice president had taken the view that were what previously extraordinary powers were now inherent powers that belonged to the White House.

“I think I’m going to have to review everything they’ve done, because I’ve been on the receiving end of that,” she said. Ms Clinton stated it was “absolutely” conceivable that, as president, she would give up executive powers in the name of constitutional principle.

“That has to be part of the review I undertake when I get to the White House, and I intend to do that,” she said.

Let’s concede the contingent nature of it all. Candidly, hypothetical non-commitments to a Brit paper are less binding even than fluff offered to the concierge of the ‘Situation Room’ (God help us all). We think there are at least three overarching reasons to be skeptical: first, the non-functioning of the other 2 branches of government; secondly, the convenience of power when used for ‘good’ (situationally defined); and third, the Stiftung’s skepticism that the American people ultimately want this to happen (unfortunately).

In short, don’t hold your breath.


It’s 2009. Let’s imagine HRC’s review is complete. All the attendant publicity is underway. Where are the other two independent branches of government? Are they ready to receive back their constitutional due? We see little evidence. Congress’ failings as a co-equal branch 2001-2007 are well known. Nothing since 2006 indicates a change in party revives its sense of larger purpose. Why would this change in 2009?

Republican animosity to HRC may revive interest in using congressional power destructively again; perhaps first as means of re-gaining power. But political energy activation states and obstructionism, by themselves, are not the same as co-equal government. Gridlock is not another word for separation of powers (albeit sometimes a by-product).

So, not to put too fine a point on it, a grant back by the Executive to a diminished Congress really cedes nothing in the end. It is a cheque given knowing it will never be cashed.

The Judiciary is the polar opposite. The Movement’s agenda remains driven by ideological energy and purpose. A Roberts Court will continue to narrow standing and other jurisdictional matters. Jurisprudence is rolling back to the late 1950s if not to the so-called Lockner Era itself. On their own the Federalists and Warlord appointees at all levels from district court on up will continue to remold the judiciary from within. The guiding ideological roadmap will continue to be “The Constitution In Exile” movement. HRC appointing two new Justices at least might arrest some of the decay. But it will be years – if ever – before the Judiciary is returned to its pre-radicalized state.

So one must ask, knowing what we know of HRC, how realistic is such a surrender of expansive Executive powers? Can one really believe there will be much discontinuity in National Security State imperatives, such as the DNI making the exact same arguments for a ‘PROTECT ACT’? Or seeking telco immunity? Would HRC truly stare the permanent apparat down? Can HRC afford to be any less extreme (if not more so) on homeland security? These are separate questions than her actual foreign policy choices such as deployments in the Middle East, etc. (watch out Iran).

The Stiftung also questions whether the American people want a return to balanced constitutional government. We speak of the broad society rather than the netroots or high media consumers. If we are right, in the eyes of the American people reflected by the approval ratings, the Warlord failed because of incompetence, not the regime’s project itself. What happens once focus groups and polling data come in validating this assessment? What advice will Mr. Triangulation offer? He said in 2004 that the American people want strong and wrong versus weak and right.

HRC might well be forgiven for thinking, WWLD?


  1. Comment says

    If we had to guess – buying the Conrad Black portrait makes good sense investment wise – It seems undervalued relative to other similar sales – Conrad seems to fall into this strange wormhole of disappearance in America – While it makes sense that he is not as well known as in Canada or the UK, it seems overdone and one day some suppressed value of that Warhol painting will manifest itself.

    In the meantime – maybe Conrad should seek to join Dennis Kozlowski. Kozlowski is receiving good press from Money Honey because he is tutoring inmates for the GED – Conrad could help Koz by opening a History department of sorts and make that particular pen a standout one in education. Though Conrad’s FDR book is clearly partisan in filled with bias, it also has brilliant parts. Similarly – Kozlowski (sp?) has so much legit business knowledge going to waste right now. Maybe they could get the guy from Global Crossing and really put together a good school/

  2. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Poor Conrad — Hugh Grant survived his Divine Brown moment and how auctions off his Warhol Liz Taylor for expected takings of $35 MM.

  3. DrLeoStrauss says

    Tweety is telling Gerson tonight that he shares Gerson’s values, that he believes in the things Gerson does. Game. Set. Match.

  4. A Random Quote says

    “Boycotts against the media have proven effective: I launched one myself last year against a magazine that misused one of my photos and misrepresented me. That magazine collapsed.”
    Katherine Jean Lopez
    NRO 10-29-07

  5. DrLeoStrauss says

    MSNBC daytime is almost unwatchable. As Dennis or someone noted recently, the BBC World News is the only hard news left. Turner said his biggest regret was selling CNN to Time Warner.

    Tweety ultimately is impressed with success. He internalized long ago the critique that Carter’s presidency was a failure. (Which the Stiftung more or less agrees with). Adding fuel to the fire, Reagan bested his next boss, Tip O’Neill, more often than not. So Goldwater Boy swings Left when it is hip to do so in the late 1960s-1970s only to join two ‘liberal losers’ and then work 15 years to be quasi accepted by the Right again (only to out of step with the prevailing winds once more).

  6. Comment says

    NPod debating Fareed Zakaria on the NewsHour – NPod looks like he’s at that point where he confuses what he really believes with falsehoods he tells.

  7. Comment says

    Also Tom DeFrank had o correct Tweety on some facts too – Interesting that Tweety looked at DeFRanks Ford book and found the one ‘dog bites man’ nugget – and highlighted that as news – Who cares what Ford thinks about Clinton’s addictions? What is news – the part Tweety downplayed, was Ford wanting Cheney out of office.

  8. Comment says

    Buchanan gently slapped Tweety down tonight when Tweety incorrectly invoked RWR’s “There you go again” line and told Barack Obama to use – Ofcourse Tweety was wrong on the context and the practical politics – As Buchanan noted – Reagan was slapping away a Carter critque (Medicare, we think it was). It would be absurd for Obama to brush aside HRC in that way. Interesting that Tweety is so disrespectful of his old boss – a bit of an ingrate.

  9. Comment says

    Indeed – why not just report the f****** news? They should get their arse in gear and shed all the crap – Doctor, have you ever accidentally tuned in to MSNBC during the day? It makes Tweety’s show look highbrow by comparison. Why cannot CNN carve out a serious niche – They need Ted Turner back.

  10. Comment says

    Why would play MoDo? Hmmm – well the casting of Beckingsale to plau Miller is a bit off, so it makes sense to make MoDos casting a bit off too. Ask yourself, why Beckingsale? What’s the message? What are they trying to convey – ? We would have chosen someone else – Maybe MoDo could be played by Molly Shannon.

  11. Aldershot says

    So the catfight would be in my comedy, and the nightclub flashback in your dramatic interpretation?

    Who would play MoDo? Think carefully.

  12. Comment says

    The opening scene in the Judy Miller movie should have her flashback to watching some Rat Pack entertainer getting booked and money changing hands at her Dad’s nightclub as cash flows and the scene w/ Sinatra occurs that would later inspire Mario Puzo etc

  13. Comment says

    That was one of MoDo’s better columns, but as time passes the felt need for a Miller rebuke fades in intensity – leaving a bitter MoDo residue. Ok Aldershot – we will replace the Judy Miller -Les Aspin love scenes, with a Judy Miller – MoDo catfight scene.

  14. Aldershot says

    re Miller movie as comedy, from Maureen Dowd piece:

    “Once when I was covering the first Bush White House, I was in The Times’s seat in the crowded White House press room, listening to an administration official’s background briefing. Judy had moved on from her tempestuous tenure as a Washington editor to be a reporter based in New York, but she showed up at this national security affairs briefing.

    At first she leaned against the wall near where I was sitting, but I noticed that she seemed agitated about something. Midway through the briefing, she came over and whispered to me, “I think I should be sitting in the Times seat.”

    It was such an outrageous move, I could only laugh. I got up and stood in the back of the room, while Judy claimed what she felt was her rightful power perch.


  15. Aldershot says

    re Olbermann, it’s seems such a waste. He has The Voice, but seems unable to modulate it. It’s always grinding away at 75% capacity and above; and no matter what the setting it’s dripping with disdain.

    The Oddball section, the best person, the worst person…such stupid gimmicks. I think he would do much better with a format change. Maybe a Hannity and Colmes type thing.

    re the Miller movie. Please. I don’t think this will bear any resemblance to reality. They’d do better to make it into a comedy. Jason Alexander could play Cheney.

  16. A Random Quote says

    “As Miller covered MET Alpha, it became increasingly clear that she had ceased to respect the boundaries between being an observer and a participant … according to [Eugene] Pomeroy and one other witness, she wore a military uniform.
    When Colonel Richard McPhee ordered MET Alpha to pull back from a search mission and regroup in the town of Talil, Miller disagreed vehemently with the decision—and let her opinions be loudly known. The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz reprinted a note in which she told public-affairs officers that she would write negatively about his decision if McPhee didn’t back down. What’s more, Kurtz reported that Miller complained to her friend Major General David Petraeus. Even though McPhee’s unit fell outside the general’s line of command, Petraeus’s rank gave his recommendation serious heft. According to Kurtz, in an account that was later denied, ‘McPhee rescinded his withdrawal order after Petraeus advised him to do so.'”
    ~New York Mag

  17. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Jason Alexander would give too much cringing sympathy for Beckensdale/Miller. (Imagine Dick Burt’s casting choice). Warner Brothers’ (strange) vow to cease production of all female lead character driven projects given poor box office is interesting. Not sure which other studio is doing this one — but Hollywood is almost as derivative as the Imperial City. Producers likely thought they needed a ‘marquee’ actress that still appealed to the ‘Lads Magazines.’

    Poor Conrad, he’s probably privately outraged at the price. Murdoch is liquid enough to *induce* people not to bid just to make sure it sits there.

  18. A Random Quote says

    “The economy was booming [1990s], and the biggest problem seemed to be managing prosperity—and a president’s personal failings. “Remember, everyone was obsessed with the White House sex story,” says New Yorker writer Jeffrey Goldberg, who was invited by the paper to join Miller in an investigation unit to examine Al Qaeda. Goldberg found her [Judith Miller] an impossibly difficult colleague. But he also realized her value. “She happened to be prescient about the rise of the global jihad. And it was her unpleasant hyper-aggressiveness that enabled her to help force a very important story—the possibility of a marriage between WMD proliferators and global jihadists—closer to the top of the agenda.”
    ~New York

  19. Comment says

    Since Beckensale is attractive , it might be worthwhile if the opening scene (to set the moral tone) is a hot steamy romantic scene with Les Aspin (Jason Alexander)

  20. Anon says

    Some Judith Miller backround – You can see a good movie. Take note of the name of her boyfriend, Richard Burt – lately making an appearance at Conrad Black’s trial – testifying (dishonestly, imo) that he knew nothing about the non competes. They all tie in. But the movie should use the Riviera nightclub to tie Miller to all of the rat pack etc:

  21. Comment says

    We predict a flop – the conditions for telling the story properly have not yet congealed. “These pretzles are making me thirsty,” says Judith in a cryptic note to Scooter – Or was it something about leaves turning etc – we forget.

  22. Dr Leo Strauss says

    What Hollywood is calling “the Judith Miller movie” is now filming on location here, but prepare yourselves: Some changes are being made to the story inspired by the outing of a CIA agent.

    For starters, in the movie Judith Miller is no longer Judith Miller of the New York Times, but Rachel Armstrong of the Washington Capital Sun. And while the real Judith Miller may be remembered as a stylish, slightly scary reporter of 59, headed off to jail in a quilted black jacket and tortoise-frame sunglasses, in the movie she is a sizzling Kate Beckinsale, 34, dressed in a, shall we say, form-fitting skirt.

    “People could say Kate is too good-looking to be a reporter,” admits Rod Lurie, the writer and director of the independently financed film.


    One can only imagine Michael Medved’s headache trying to divine the authentic Movement line on this one . . .

  23. Comment says

    Just a note on Livia (great quote Dennis) – Maybe Clodia is a better example – Save that HRC is not known for being infamous in her own actions the way Clodia was – But she was a symbol of decline during the Republic for those who pined for a purer past. Anyway – we never understood the basis for the ‘democrat’ insult – How that evolved as some sort sneer for some of the slow-eyed set in the GOP. Only Tom Delay, with spittle flying, could pull it off as a real insult.

  24. Comment says

    Comment just tuned into c-span and we see Doc Hastings on the House floor attacking Pelosi over the s-chip thing – Whatever, but then Hastings says he will quote from Pelosi’s website (supposedly catching Pelosi revealing something) and he proceeds to quote = He says “directly.” But he edits every mention of the word “democractic” to that dumb insult “democrat.” This is pretty stupid and Comment has a high tolerance for stupidity, but we don’t understand the appeal of this.
    Democrats should rise and call for Hastings all but meaningless remarks to be striken from the record on the basis that he misquoted the Speaker for intentions of insulting her – This seems small, but it would be a good idea because a lot of Republicans – esp the lesser ones – are emotionally dependent on that ‘democrat’ insult/non-insult and it would really tool inside their ooda loops to deny them that lame joke or make them fight for it – bringing out their worst spokesmen.

  25. Comment says

    Olberman should stop immitating Murrow’s signature head turn toward the camera. He should drop the Britney stuff and kill the “Oddball” segement and replace it with sports – in a reverse Costas move.

  26. says


    To my more paleo sensibilities Olbermann is an unfortunate necessity, seeing as cable and network news is otherwise split mostly between the gruesome propaganda of Fox and such milquetoast as (perfect characterization, Dr.) the “concierge” of the Situation Room (Wolf’s play-fort). I think that makes Larry King a doorman. Or the men’s room attendant.

    Outside of Lehrer and the BBC (tragically remote from the frenetic culture of the mass—how ironic that free public news broadcasts are both the last redoubt of sobriety and integrity and as incapable of reaching the masses as if they were broadcast in Esperanto—well, perhaps not so much ironic as symptomatic) he may be the closest thing we have to an adult on television news. A sad testament.

    (Aside: be sure to watch “Planet in Peril” on CNN this week, hosted by the Tight Black T-shirt Trio led by frontman Anderson Cooper–imagine the execs flushing with excitement when SoCal went up in timely flames–Jon Stewart did a great bit on the full-sized glossy poster of the boys in newspapers–sure to take generations to biodegrade, ensuring environmental awareness long into the future)

    A week or two ago KO led with a report on the latest dispatch from Seymour Hersh on Iran-threat agitprop. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he’s the only cable/network guy to that.

    But he does grate this (relative) conservative; for all his smug, self-satisfied sanctimony (he seems to observe an ironclad rule that any remark bearing the slightest load of humor cannot be allowed to pass the lips unaccompanied by a smirk and the double salute of raised eyebrows), he still seems as if he’s struggling mightily to do no more than set the meter back to a respectable and incurious moderate-liberal bias so we can all go back to sleep.

    Re that Livia quote above, the scene is classic. She wades into crowd of sweaty, armed gladiators and opens with something like: “You’re all scum, and you know it. That’s why you’re here…” Sian Philips ruled (in more ways than one) in that show.

    I was reminded of it witnessing a sportscaster aver that the great boxer Floyd Mayweather needs to make his purses more lucrative by sacrificing defense to engage in more entertaining and braincell-deadening brawls a la the soon to be punch-drunk Arturo Gatti.

    Meanwhile the sweet science gives way for a profusion of “extreme” fighting sports, their most significant common feature apparently that fighters are always fair game, even if they’re laid out comatose, until the referee pulls the victor away (a bit like O’Reilly, Olbermann, et al, come to think of it).
    The more things change…

    Sorry about the length of this, if indeed you have made it this far.

  27. A Random Quote says

    “He had a tendency to look down at us, like he couldn’t believe people so beneath him were responsible for his freedom – He didn’t portray any warmth, any emotions at all. It looked like he thought the whole trial was a big waste of his time.”
    ~Juror Jean Kelly
    On Conrad Black’s trial

  28. Comment says

    Doc – correct us if we are wrong, but we recall comparing Lord Black’s coporate structure to a reverse of one of those Russian dolls – Now, here is Men’s Vogue:
    “In order to fully grasp the case against Black it is important to understand the convoluted corporate structure through which he controlled Hollinger International—a series of interconnected private companies that resembled a set of nested Russian matryoshka dolls.”
    What we thought of as a joke – has gone mainstream

  29. A Random Quote says

    “It [His Catholic faith] has been helpful … in reading apposite passages from ecclesiastical authors, especially Cardinal Newman, and in conversation with several very knowledgeable clergymen.”
    ~Conrad Black 11-07

  30. A Random Quote says

    “We have the…pursuit of prominent, well–off people who get into the crosshairs of the system essentially as a substitute for a wealth–redistribution policy, and we have a certain revulsion against extreme proliferations of wealth – Property is seized without compensation, due process has eroded, and the grand jury is no protection at all against capricious prosecutions. It is a difficult time to be a corporate defendant.”
    ~Conrad Black
    Men’s Vogue 11-07

  31. Aldershot says

    “I want a good show.”

    Same here, entertain me. Bring on the Hilldog.

    “Howard Kurtz, I am now certain, has a secret. Either he no longer sleeps, or he has found a way to expand the 24-hour day. How else can one explain his exceptional output?”

    Amphetamines? He was Chipper Chipmunk on the Daily Show and another place I saw him. But the subject of his book seems bor-ing.

    Olberman is unwatchable.

  32. Comment says

    Did Rudy infiltrate any Bill Hayden’s in Romney’s campaign to give Mitt bad one liners? – Mitt looks uncool with his Obama/Osama malaprops – The American people don’t want a d***wad as President.

  33. Comment says

    Olberman needs some fresh material – he’s taking Rudy’s Red Sox ‘treason’ too seriously. But if HRC gets focused on baseball now, she can turn her own baseball weakness away against Rudy – By focusing on the REAL reasons Rudy spurned outer borough baseball growing up in Brooklyn (partially)

  34. DrLeoStrauss says

    Great Livia quote from I, Claudius. Was going to run the vid of her explaining to Claudius before her death why she extinguished so many people.

    re HRC, was in the Stiftungmobile today heading to a meeting in the rain, listening to O’Reilly opine on HRC, powerful women, henpecked, castrated men and the danger to America. Two things occurred to me: they read this site and steal Comment’s best material, or we do a better O’Reilly (and Tweety) than they do.

  35. A Random Quote says

    “Howard Kurtz, I am now certain, has a secret. Either he no longer sleeps, or he has found a way to expand the 24-hour day. How else can one explain his exceptional output?”
    ~Marvin Kalb
    WaPo 10-21-07

  36. Comment says

    Will the Tweety types be supportive of HRC if she does things about healt insurance they supposedly support? Recentlt Matthews was buttering up Michael Moore and pounding the table about healty insurance, but as soon as HRC starts trying to do something , he will start whining about her hired “eggheads” and “propeller heads” – But HRC knows this now – so she will be prepared with political distractions – policy stun grenades, if you will – aimed at distracting the Tweety types – She will also mimic Cheney’s people in her attempts to manipulate the Russert types – but less successfully. Russert will start covering HRC with his banal all women’s panels – with Doris and Sally B Smith et al

  37. Comment says

    HRC explains much of the anger against her as a byproduct of rapid change – She regards much of it as reactionary sentiment – unthinking, fearful, etc. There is much truth to this, but it’s incomplete – HRC is much closer to Angela Merkel than Rosa Luxemberg, but a lot of the base doesn’t see this in their current delerium. Anyway – she will try to channel and harness and divide this reactionary sentiment (x) – She will be “tough on crime,” but soft on Woodstock. She will go to war – but only to win. She won’t throw soldiers into provocations like the neos though.
    She will use the Executive powers to kneecap her enemies and here you will see that the so-called beliefs of Cheney re Strong Executive – were mere figlead for Republican Power – Many of the Addington arguments will suddenly not apply to HRC – They will have to delegitimize her in order to close this logical loop

  38. Comment says

    “HRC appointing two new Justices at least might arrest some of the decay. ”
    – Perhaps – If someone with early onset intestinal cancer goes on vacation and gets a nice tan, they will look good. But have they fundamentally bettered themselves? HRC will more than match her husband when she tries to harness state power for drug wars and Ignatieffian-type conflicts etc. Remember when teh Weekly Standard got all huffy at the guns and cops in little havana?

  39. says

    Forgive the double dip, but:

    I want a good show. I want my money’s worth…These games are being degraded by the increasing use of professional tricks to stay alive, and I won’t have it. So put on a good show and there’ll be plenty of money for the living and a decent burial for the dead, and if not, I’ll break this guild up.
    —Livia addressing the Gladiators, I, Claudius

  40. says

    Hillary continues to meld with the Movement as its capital flows into her campaign. As if there was ever really that much daylight between them. What paltry crumbs she feels compelled to offer us too; “an eye toward” reversing indefensible constitutional powers. I hope it’s at least that testicle-shrinking look she affects when preening in commitee hearings.
    But the overt narcissism–she’s going to act because she’s “been on the recieving end” (way to order those priorities) of those powers, when she was as complicit (more really, considering her stature) in the abnegation of Congressional authority as anyone–when it was politically expedient.
    And that’s the commnality between her and her false opposites in the Movement–defined by political expedience, their first directive is to retain power.

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