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The Dallas Morning News

Think sharp.

There was a time when evangelical churches were becoming largely and almost exclusively the Republican Party at prayer. To some extent we have to see how much the Republicans have blown it. That opportunity to lock up that constituency has vanished. The ball now really is in the Democrats court. Marvin Olasky, University of Texas professor, editor of evangelical magazine World and originator of compassionate conservatism (The New York Times Magazine, last Sunday)

Saying no to your vet

How much would you pay for a veterinarian to do CPR on your dead dog? 4P
Sunday, November 4, 2007

Time on Bushs presidency is running out, but the powers he expanded may be here to stay unless voters demand that balance be restored, says MICHAEL LINDENBERGER

Return of the

Nothing in here except Tinkerbell is innocent. Last year, Grace was a snow princess. Now, this is what she likes. I dont know whats happened. Kathy Rafferty, shopping for Halloween costumes with her 6-year-old daughter, who preferred the Runway Diva costume (Washington Post, Tuesday)


It really turned out to be much ado about nothing. When you are carrying human body parts, its good to have some documentation that they are legitimate. Jim Baker, Royse City police chief, on two dozen embalmed human heads found in a truck stopped for speeding (Dallas Morning News, Tuesday)

If you were dumb and a Jew, it was a lot easier to be a Christian. Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve and a gentile, on why the rigors of Talmudic study weeded out the intellectually challenged Jews millennia ago (The Washington Post, Tuesday)

[It was] getting harder and harder to get on that airplane. I want to live in the same city as my husband. Karen Hughes, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, on why she resigned to return to Texas (The New York Times, Thursday)

Im sorry, but thats a potential death sentence, and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded? Jack Crotty, a senior foreign service officer, protesting to a State Department superior the decision to force employees to take assignments in Baghdad (MSNBC, Wednesday)

Our Q&A with Michael Davis, a real estate developer and blogger ( who was named best political blogger by the Dallas Observer in 2006
As a relatively new member of the Dallas Plan Commission, you bring youth and fresh ideas. Youve talked about the need to pull the welcome mat out from under some companies in southern Dallas. What did you mean by that? Companies that have shown themselves to be bad actors or disinterested in real investment in our communities should not be rewarded with new stores and incentives. Minyards and Wendys come to mind. In 2004, Wendys built a take-out only restaurant without seats in south Oak Cliff. During the same time period, Wendys built stores in other neighborhoods with seats. They want our dollars but do not want customers to sit in their restaurants? Minyards has built brand new Carnival stores and fixed up stores in north Oak Cliff while the Marsalis and Illinois location hasnt been renovated since the store was built in 1967. Both acts are unconscionable. What do you think motivated Wendys and Minyards? What if Minyards were to say, for example, that it doesnt do enough business at that location to justify spending on those renovations? Come to Minyards on a Sunday or any evening and youll see that Minyards does a bustling business. Youll also see people sitting outside on the curb eating their Wendys on any given day. I think the reason is greed, pure and simple. They want to realize as much income as possible from stores in our neighborhood, so long as its an arms length transaction that doesnt require meaningful investment. Charity doesnt count. To be clear, I feel that most of the blame is on the aforementioned companies but that some must be shouldered by previous elected officials in that area. Why is that? Any elected official that is serious about major issues should not only talk about them but use their position to make sure that their district at a city or county level has the quality of life its residents deserve. That means you must first directly address issues of violent crime, drug houses and other neighborhood dangers that plague area residents. Then development will follow. The new City Council leadership of Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway and Mayor Tom Leppert has shown that not only do they campaign on such issues but are willing to use their positions to effect verifiable change in that community. Both have hit the ground running.


or Americans ready for a change at the White House and for those who dread it, too today marks an important milestone. Exactly one year from now, voters will decide who will replace George W. Bush as president. Choosing a new president is always a big deal, but many would argue that next years vote is especially portentous. With a war on, and with an ambitious, ideologically driven administration headed into its eighth year, there is a tremendous amount at stake in setting a new direction for America.
With so much on the line, we can expect loads of attention to be paid to the personalities and the policies of the people who want to shake hands with Mr. Bush as he leaves the White House on Jan. 20, 2009. But will the quickening roar of the campaign conversation cant you hear it, already? drown out a badly needed debate over the presidency itself? Americans should hope it does not. The job all the candidates want is different from when Mr. Bush took office in 2001. By a series of legal maneuvers only recently fully understood, Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have steadily expanded the scope and power of the presidency. The president, they argue, has the right to pull America out of a fully ratified treaty and without consulting anyone, much less the Senate, whose role in treaty-making is stated so clearly in the Constitution. The president alone, theyve argued, has the power to end fighting in a foreign theater, never mind the fact that the Constitution says Congress, not the president, has the power to declare war. One lawyer for the White House has argued, in fact, that presidents need no involvement from Congress to go to war, much less to end one. A declaration of war is merely a legal nicety, unrelated to the actual fighting of

Mark Davis tells candidates how to make the most of the next year, 5P Rod Dreher explains why he thinks a war with Iran would be sheer lunacy, 4P
many as those issued by his father and Bill Clinton combined. In other ways, too, Mr. Bush has sought to insulate the activities of the executive branch from the oversight of Congress and the courts. He has asserted so-called executive privilege more often, and to cover a wider group of activities, than any of his modern-day predecessors. White House lawyers have argued in court that some of its decisions most notably its indefinite detentions of citizen and noncitizen enemy combatants are not only legal, they cannot be reviewed by the Supreme Court or other federal courts. Two books published recently shed considerable light on how Mr. Bush succeeded in this, what some are calling his most unambiguous success. One is by a journalist, the other a former top-level lawyer for the White House, and they both chronicle the relentless campaign from within the White House to restore to the presidency the power it held before Watergate left it weakened. Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savages book Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy is a sweeping account of how the Bush administration led by Mr. Cheney but fully supported by his boss used the war on terror to steadily increase the power of the executive branch at the expense of both Congress and the courts. The second book The Terror PresiSee LINDENBERGER Page 5P


From Jeffersons Louisiana Purchase to Nixons Watergate affair, presidents have been testing the limits of their power for as long as theyve had limits to test. 5P

one, he has written. They also argue that many laws passed by Congress and signed by the president need not be followed or enforced. To bypass them, the president need only issue a statement at the time of signing, spelling out his objections. This is not a novel view, but Mr. Bush has carried it to a new level: In his first five years in office, he signed 750 such statements, more than twice as

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The Dallas Morning News

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Page 5P

Memo to candidates: how to improve your odds
One year from today, all this fun ends. Make the most of it, says MARK DAVIS. Hillary Clinton
Pure genius. You are not even running for the nomination anymore. You are positioning yourself as a centrist who has locked up the nomination, ready to face whatever GOP foe arises. In so doing, you look less shrill and more presidential than your rivals, who sometimes look as if they dont even know terrorism exists. Theres only one thing that could trip you up: a sudden realization by Democratic voters that winning the nomination would earn you months of Republican TV ads destroying that phony centrist facade and reminding millions of voters of the White House scandals you either participated in or helped conceal. slightest Muslim flavor will be made to look like your prom took place in a madrasa in Kabul.

John Edwards
Stay below the radar. You will never outshine your loftier competition on a debate stage or outpace them in contributions. Your only hope is that even Democrats are not ready to cast their fate with a widely despised woman or an inexperienced black man. The thing is, that is not wholly implausible.

addle up, everybody. Only a year to make up our minds. The 2008 presidential vote will be settled one year from today, presuming no vote-counting debacles. When the polls close, we will have finally lowered the curtain on what has already seemed like a long parlor game of elusive answers to compelling questions. Can a woman or an African-American be elected president? Can a social liberal win the Republican nomination? Are front-runners doomed to stumble? One year from today, all this fun ends. So with only 366 (remember leap year) days of riveting horse-race action remaining, here are my brief memos to several significant candidates on how to improve their chances: First, the Democrats, just to make clear that I am willing to offer objective views even to those campaigns I have no chance of supporting:

whom you will need to stay competitive in some key states. Comfort them with a ninth-grade civics lesson: Overturning Roe doesnt make one abortion illegal it merely returns the battle to the states, where it belongs.

general election.

John McCain
Remain the presidents strongest supporter on the war, giving the True Believers a candidate they might stick with even though you are dead wrong on immigration and campaign finance reform.

Mitt Romney
Stop wimping out on your religion. Admit to mainstream Christians that your faith is widely divergent from theirs but contains no doctrinal content that would lead you to do anything as president that they would disapprove of. Only then will you get the respect for your Mormon devoutness that you seem to think you deserve today while dismissively referring questioners to Wikipedia or Then make sure you are talking more about tough borders than Fred Thompson.

Ron Paul
Keep those energized faithful plugged in and contributing. You have already outshined any reasonable expectation for a libertarian war skeptic running as a Republican. Any success you enjoy may pave the way for future libertarians who might actually see some success under their own partys banner.

Every other Democrat

Try to avoid saying anything that would keep you from being chosen as a running mate. Now to the Republicans:

Barack Obama
Stay fervently anti-war, which will keep you closer to the Bush-hating Democratic base. But floating stupid ideas like chatting pleasantly with Iran may spook even the most pacifist in your party. Also, brace yourself for bloggers who are about to get very interested in every detail of your religious upbringing. The

Rudy Giuliani
Stop wimping out on abortion. Shoot straight with the fact that you will appoint Supreme Court justices likely to overturn Roe vs. Wade. This will comfort millions of social conservatives, whom you need right now. It will also petrify some pro-choicers,

Mike Huckabee
Start shopping for drapes for the vice presidents residence. Mark Davis is heard weekdays on News/ Talk WBAP-AM (820). His e-mail address is

Fred Thompson
Talk more about tough borders than Mr. Romney, but get ready to talk less about it if you get the nomination. Illegal immigration will be a big player in the Republican primaries but far less in the

Continued from Page 1P

dency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration, by former White House lawyer and leading conservative legal academic Jack L. Goldsmith tells a narrower story from inside the administrations relentless quest to expand the powers of the presidency. Together, they show how Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush, working through lawyers operating far from the scrutiny of the press and the public, helped restore to the presidency more power than it has enjoyed at any time since before Watergate. ndeed, to understand what one means by an imperial presidency, we can start with an interview Richard Nixon gave in 1977, three years after he left the White House early and in disgrace. Thirty years ago in London, during a famous interview with British broadcaster David Frost, the former president was asked about the Watergate burglaries, about the cover-up that sent him packing and about the crimes for which he had been pardoned. But Mr. Nixon was having none of it. He said that a president, when acting as president during times of emergency, can commit no crime. Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal, he said. By definition? Mr. Frost added. Exactly. Exactly. If the president, for example, approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the presidents decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it out without violating a law. Mr. Nixon went on to say that even murder, if committed by a president during an emergency, would not be prosecutable. Instead, he could be voted out or impeached, he said. The idea of a presidency so immune from the checks and balances of the other branches of government fell quickly out of vogue after Mr. Nixon left office. The Church Committee passed a series of laws aimed at reforming, and reining in, the Central Intelligence Agency. Congress created and President Gerald Ford signed into law the Office of Independent Counsel. Fighting against each of those efforts and others that were to follow was Dick Cheney, first as Mr. Fords chief of staff and then, beginning in 1979, as a member of Congress. He has said repeatedly since 2000 that undoing the checks Congress had placed on the office of the presidency is one of his chief goals as vice president. Many of Mr. Bushs harshest critics have painted him as an accidental president, someone who has wandered blithely from one critical juncture to the next. But his success in securing Mr. Cheneys vision for a more robust presidency is proof that that picture is an incomplete one at best. Mr. Savage offers no evidence that expanding the presidencys power was critical to Mr. Bush until after he was elected. But Mr. Savage and Mr. Goldsmith make perfectly clear that as president, Mr. Bush has come to treasure that goal as highly as Mr. Cheney does. Indeed, its accomplishment has come to be seen as one of Mr. Bushs two least equivocal successes, along with his placement of staunchly conservative judges on the federal bench.

ut unlike Mr. Bushs work to push the courts to the right, his efforts on behalf of the presidency have,

until recently, been done almost entirely in secret. The campaign has been conducted in quiet. Thats because the initial determination of whether a presidents actions are legal is rarely made in a court of law or in the halls of Congress. Instead, a littleknown entity in the Justice Department, known as the Office of Legal Counsel, writes memos advising the president on what he can and cannot do. The infamous and now, mostly, discarded torture memo was one such advisement. Dozens of others have been issued since, and in case after case the result has been the same: a binding, precedentsetting opinion that granted additional powers to the president. These memos were often secret and thus difficult, if not impossible, for Congress or the public to challenge. However, thanks in part to the books by Mr. Savage, who won a Pulitzer Prize for documenting Mr. Bushs use of signing statements, and Mr. Goldsmith, that is beginning to change. Last month, for instance, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton did something few of her modern-day equivalents have done in campaigning for president: She pledged that, if elected, she would cede some of the powers of that office. I will conduct a very serious review of how the Bush-Cheney administration has grabbed power. They have ignored checks and balances, they have disregarded the separation of powers, they have this theory of the so-called unitary executive and then Vice President Cheney has a whole different theory about how hes a fourth branch of government. But its far from clear whether Mrs. Clintons pledge, or similar ones made by other Democratic candidates, will have any impact. Constitutional power is a funny thing, in that it is hard to give away. Even the act of deciding to relinquish it will someday look to a future president like a precedent for taking it back again. Instead, if Congress or the courts want some of their power back and many lawmakers say they do they are going to have to take it, not count on a president who is nice enough to return it like an unwanted wedding gift. So far, though, there is little to suggest that either of the other two branches is ready to do so. The Supreme Court has taken on a small set of cases that dealt explicitly with the balance of powers. In some, it has set out some limits on presidential power. For instance, in 2004s Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, justices ruled that enemy combatants who are American citizens are entitled to a hearing before a neutral party before they can be locked away indefinitely, a position the Bush administration resisted emphatically. But such decisions have been rare, nearly non-existent since Mr. Bushs two appointees to the Supreme Court, both former White House lawyers, were sworn in. Part of the reason for that lack of engagement, no doubt, is that the Supreme Court has always been loath to rule on questions of power between the other branches of government, preferring instead for Congress and the executive branch to hash it out in the political arena. The times in which it has established limits of presidential power for instance, rebuking President Harry Truman for closing the steel mills, or in ordering Mr. Nixon to turn over his White House tapes, or in permitting Paula Jones civil suit to proceed against Mr. Clinton have tended to be historymaking events. The resulting vacuum has provided


Elected as an anti-Federalist, Thomas Jefferson (1801-09) was president during a time when the office itself played second-fiddle to the Congress. But thanks to enormous popularity and sweeping majorities in both houses Jeffersons will was supreme in Washington, according to historian Henry Adams. Acting on his own, he bought the Louisiana Purchase and later imposed a complete embargo against England. The latter exercise of power cost him his popularity, and when he left for Monticello in 1809, he was virtually friendless.

Abraham Lincoln (1861-65) canceled the privilege of habeas corpus in the first months of the Civil War, later telling Congress that the move was critical and that, since lawmakers were not in session, it was his call to make. The move led to summary arrests and military trials of citizens throughout the country. At the end of the war, the Supreme Court ruled that the president had exceeded his authority.

Facing another national crisis, the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-44) attempted to exercise outsized power from the White House. He enjoyed a generally compliant Congress but initially found his New Deal checked at every point by the Supreme Court. His heavy-handed efforts to expand the courts membership to 12 justices backfired, but he ultimately had the last laugh. As the longest-serving president, he outlasted his critics on the court and eventually appointed justices who voted to ratify his most controversial decisions.

Harry S Truman (1944-53) was the first Cold War president, and his time in office offered clues to the expanded role the presidency would play during that era. He went one step too far, however, when in the midst of the Korean War, he ordered the federal government to seize control of steel factories to avert a strike. In a landmark 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court blocked the move, saying the president lacked the necessary authorization from the Congress.

It was during another war that the powers of the presidency seemed to reach their zenith. Richard M. Nixon (1969-74) saw the presidents power as nearly unlimited in times of national emergency. From ordering secret bombings in Cambodia, to allegedly using the IRS to punish his enemies, Nixon saw few limits on the office. He would later tell a British broadcaster that when a president does it, it cant be illegal.

Gerald Ford (1974-77) felt the reverberations of an outraged Congress in the wake of the Watergate investigations. From tighter controls on intelligence to the creation of the Office of the Independent Counsel, a series of laws ushered in a time of reduced power for the presidency. Mr. Fords chief of staff, Dick Cheney, would later say he decided then that he would work to restore that lost power.

ready opportunities for a White House not limited by the inhibitions against power-grabbing that most of its postWatergate predecessors felt. Whats left, then, is Congress the branch of government originally seen by the founders as by far the most powerful and therefore the one most in need of careful watching. But if Americans concerned about the balance of powers are waiting for Congress to assert itself from the other end of the Mall, it has shown scant interest in doing so. In the last year alone, Congress has refused to challenge Mr. Bushs insistence that he alone can end the war in Iraq. And though lawmakers squawked loudly at first, they have since opted to endorse, rather than fight, Mr. Bushs campaign of warrantless wiretapping. Senators spent last week rattling their

sabers over whether attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey thinks water boarding is illegal. But they have paid too little attention to his apparently broad support for the debatable theory that the Constitution grants inherent, but unspecified, powers to the presidency during wars.

hats left, then, is for Congress to find its voice and pass laws needed to restore the balance of powers. The president, no doubt, will resist and in cases when the legislation appears to restrict his prerogatives as commander in chief, he may simply refuse to acknowledge the new laws legitimacy. But by pressing the issue, Congress can force the showdown that is needed either before the Supreme Court or in front of the court of public opinion.

For ultimately, on issues as big as the limits of power for the presidency and other branches of the government, the final arbiters will be the American public whose approval is the source of legitimacy for all decisions made in Washington. Toward that end, its fitting that today kicks off the one-year countdown to Election Day 2008. Voters in both parties should insist that the candidates engage in a debate about proper limits of executive power. Maybe by showing their own courage, voters will help Congress and the courts find theirs. Michael A. Lindenberger is a Dallas Morning News staff writer. His e-mail address is

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