Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
flexed their muscles, shook their rattles, and told President-elect Barack
Obama not to tread upon them.
�I don�t believe in the executive power trumping everything,�
Reid, the Senate�s majority leader, told the political newspaper, The Hill. He said he believed �in our Constitution,
three separate but equal branches of government.� For emphasis, he warned, �If
Obama steps over the bounds, I will tell him. . . . I do not work for Barack
Obama, I work with him.�
Feinstein, incoming chair of the Senate Intelligence
committee, whined that Obama didn�t consult her before nominating Leon Panetta,
former Clinton chief of staff, to be CIA director. She then tagged her
complaint with an unveiled attack upon Panetta. �My position has consistently
been that I believe the agency is best-served by having an intelligence
professional in charge at this time,� said Feinstein.
Both concerns by Reid and Feinstein might be commendable -- had
Reid and Feinstein been as tough on George W. Bush before his popularity sank
lower than a Texan wearing Hush Puppies at a line dance.
Reid and Feinstein voted for the USAPATRIOT Act not once but
twice. Feinstein was even one of the co-sponsors to renew the act. By the time
Congress voted to renew the USAPATRIOT Act, the federal courts had already
ruled several parts to be either unconstitutional or constitutionally
Reid eventually opposed Bush�s illegal wiretapping of
citizens. However, Feinstein supported continued wiretaps without court
authority. She later joined a coalition of conservative Democrats and
Republican senators to support a reduction in proposed civil liberties
protection in the modified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and to extend
the power of the executive branch.
Both Reid and Feinstein willingly approved the invasion of
Iraq. They changed their position more than four years later, at a time when
Americans, who once said anti-war protestors were traitors and un-American, had
finally realized that they had been lied to as to reasons for the invasion.
One reason Obama may not have consulted with Feinstein about
Panetta�s nomination, although he later apologized for the �oversight,� may be
because Feinstein supported CIA activities under the Bush�Cheney administration.
Panetta�s nomination was partially because Obama wanted a strong administrator
at the CIA and partially because he was sending a clear message that
unquestioned execution of Bush�Cheney policies that led to rendition and
torture would not be tolerated under an Obama administration. Feinstein
supported Bush�s nomination of Porter Goss as CIA director. Although once a CIA
agent, Goss had spent three decades as a career politician who had viciously
attacked those whose political beliefs didn�t agree with his; as director of
Central Intelligence, he allowed the agency to massage data to the administration�s
Although Reid did call Bush a �loser� and a �liar,� he later
apologized for the comments and showed little rage against the bullying tactics
of the Republican-controlled Congress during Bush�s first term. During Bush�s
last term, Reid became more aggressive against the administration�s incursion
upon civil liberties, and did lead his Democratic colleagues to oppose numerous
Bush�Cheney power plays. However, as minority leader in December 2005, he
acknowledged, in an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, that Congress �has
done very, very little oversight� of the president�s actions.
Barack Obama is the most popular president-elect in almost
four decades. He received 52 percent of the popular vote, a higher percentage
than Bush received in 2004, and for which the second term president said he had
a mandate from the people. At the end of 2008, a CNN/Opinion Research poll
revealed that two-thirds of all Americans said they admired Obama, about
three-fourths said Obama was a strong and decisive leader, and four-fifths said
they believe Obama inspires confidence.
Reid and Feinstein�s challenges to the hugely popular
incoming president, one who unlike Cheney and Bush believes in following
constitutional and international law, as well as transparency of government,
were unusual and defensive. More important, they weren�t necessary two weeks
Brasch is a former secretary, Red Cross national disaster family services
specialist, union grievance officer, and university labor studies instructor.
Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and university professor. For a
more complete look at the Bush�Cheney Administration and its effect upon
Americans, read his critically-acclaimed books America�s
Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government�s Violation of Constitutional and
Civil Rights (2004); �Unacceptable�: The Federal Government�s Response
to Hurricane Katrina (2006); and the 560-page Sinking the Ship of State:
The Presidency of George W. Bush (2008). All books are available at
amazon.com, and most bookstores. You may contact Dr. Brasch through his
or by e-mail at email@example.com.