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NYT: Presidential Power, in Perspective

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  • Ram Lau
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/23/weekinreview/23readB.html?ref=washington September 23, 2007 Reading File Presidential Power, in Perspective By THE NEW YORK
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 23, 2007
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      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/23/weekinreview/23readB.html?ref=washington

      September 23, 2007
      Reading File
      Presidential Power, in Perspective
      By THE NEW YORK TIMES

      Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., writing on April 27, 1967, described the
      mutability of attitudes toward presidential power. The excerpt is from
      "Journals: 1952-2000," a collection of the late historian's diary to
      be published next month.

      We are reaching some sort of crisis on Vietnam. L. B. J. has evidently
      decided on a quick and brutal escalation of the war. It was clear in
      February that he did not wish negotiation until the existing military
      balance could be turned considerably in our favor; and his clear
      intention now is to bomb North Vietnam until Hanoi is prepared to sue
      for peace on terms which will meet Rusk's idea of a satisfactory
      settlement.

      More than that, the administration is apparently determined to advance
      the proposition that dissent is unpatriotic, and has brought General
      Westmoreland back for this purpose.

      The irony is that all of us for years have been defending the
      presidential prerogative and regarding the Congress as a drag on
      policy. It is evident now that this delight in a strong presidency was
      based on the fact that, up to now, all strong presidents in American
      history have pursued policies of which one has approved. We are now
      confronted by the anomaly of a strong president using these arguments
      to pursue a course which, so far as I can see, can lead only to disaster.

      It is not hard to assert a Congressional role; but, given the
      structure of the American system, it is very hard to see how the
      Congress can restrain the presidential drive toward the enlargement of
      the war. Voting against military appropriations is both humanly and
      politically self-defeating. The only hope is to organize a broad
      political movement; and even this cannot take effect until, at the
      very earliest, the 1968 primaries, which may be too late.
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