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Editors continue to butcher Bush "signing statements" story

Remember, editors have the power, not reporters. Editors write the headlines, not reporters. (Editors also assign stories to reporters, and decide whether to front page stories, bury them in the back of the paper, or spike them. And Judy Miller had training kneepads compared to these guys.) So, get a load of this headline:

Lawyers decry Bush's legal interpretations

You'd never guess from this story that it's about Bush's signing statements, or that Constitutional issues are at stake. How do they Fuck us? Let me count the ways:

1. "Lawyers" trivializes the story right away. That the source of the report is the ABA is not mentioned. That the issue is of Constitiutional importance is not mentioned.

2. "Decry" trivializes the story even further.

3. "Legal" distorts the story completely! It gives the flavor of legality to executive--I say executive because we need to stop giving Bush the title of honor, "President," since he is neither faithful to his oath of office nor legitimately elected--outcomes that are not merely illegal but designed to destroy the separation of powers and our Constitutional form of government (see Federalist #47).

4. "Interpretation" flushes the story right down the crapper. Under the Constitution, Bush does not have the right to interpret the law; that's up to the judicial branch, according to the doctrine of the separation of powers. By implying that Bush can, indeed, interpret the law, the headline conceals the exact Constitutional point at issue with almost surreal precision.

Now that we're done with how the editors butchered the story, we can look at the reporting:

The lead is pretty good:

Bush's penchant for writing exceptions to laws he has just signed violates the Constitution, an American Bar Association task force says in a report highly critical of the practice

That the President can "write exceptions to laws he has just signed" is so self-evidently absurd--with the exception of winger nimrods, sorry for the redundancy--that it almost makes up for the fact that "Constitutional crisis" is not mentioned.

The story does edge up to the central issue, however. Paragraph four:

This report raises serious concerns crucial to the survival of our democracy," said the ABA's president, Michael Greco. "If left unchecked, the president's practice does grave harm to the separation of powers doctrine, and the system of checks and balances that have sustained our democracy for more than two centuries."

And it does finger operative Alito as the source of this noxious doctrine:

The ABA report said President Reagan was the first to use the [signing] statements as a strategic weapon, and that it was encouraged by then-administration lawyer Samuel Alito — now the newest Supreme Court justice.

Thank you, Senator Lieberman, for your heroic work on the Scalito filibuster. Oh, wait...

Bush assumes the powers of a tyrant--see Federalist 47--and all the Beltway editors can do is get down on their knees and start gobbling. Unbelievable. Or all too believable.

NOTE Would it be too much to ask that the word "bi-partisan" be used with some consistency? If Ho Lieberman goes on Fox and puts a shiv into some other Democrat's back, that's "bi-partisan."

But let three highly qualified Republican wise men say Bush is destroying the Constitution, and not a murmer of "bi-partisan" is to be heard:

The task force included former prosecutor Neal Sonnett of Miami; former [Republican] FBI Director William Sessions; Patricia Wald, former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; former Republican Rep. Mickey Edwards; and former [Republican] Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein; and law school professors and other lawyers.

NOTE More butchery by editors here.

NOTE Charlie Savage, of course, gets the story exactly right. Read this lead:

President Bush should stop issuing statements claiming the power to bypass parts of laws he has signed, an American Bar Association task force has unanimously concluded in a strongly worded 32-page report that is scheduled to be released today.

The headline's not so bad either:

Panel chides Bush on bypassing laws

As an FDL commmenter Right Fools remarks:

The Boston Globe has done some very impressive reporting in the last few months.

Don’t they know they are owned by the New York Times Company?

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