The problem here is that it's been roughly ten years since the idea of a foreign power being able to negotiate a stable agreement with the Senate has been much more than a farce.Patroklos wrote: ↑2018-05-13 06:19amSo an agreement is the same thing as a treaty? A completely legally nonbinding agreement between one dude via fiat reviewed and checked (as in government checks) by nobody is the same thing as a legally binding, Senate-approved via Constitutionally stipulated vote treaty respecting the democratic process? Get the fuck out of here Simon. Something tells me you wouldn't accept such terms for your mortgage payment, or even your cell phone bill.
The problem here, and what may lead to the problems you allude to, is not Trump canceling this agreement via the exact same powers with which Obama made it. Its that a pretentious Obama made it in the first place by overtly circumventing the normal process by which a long term, legally binding treaty you seem to wish this was comes into being. And yeah that was impossible for Obama to do because he had disagreement in the Senate. That's not a flaw of the process, that's a feature, that a chief executive is checked by a democratic means as much as you think Obama was right and the Senate was wrong. The proper response to this is to negotiate to get something resembling what you want, or if their is an impasse accept that what you want is not in your power to create and bow down to the coequal branch of government which has the Constitutional power for the issue in question. While it appears Raj above is completely cool with Presidents routinely acting as unrestricted dictators, I assume ignoring the democratic process checking the President's power is not something you approve of.
We have a lot of treaties that are not ratified. Or pending ratification. Or non-ratifiable. We have a political party that will retain enough power to block treaties if not to pass them, willing to praise Trump for talking to the North Koreans even as they condemned the very idea of Obama doing the same.
Democratic processes work as long as people are willing to make them work, and the country has to be capable of functioning on some minimal level and making meaningful agreements with foreigners regardless of what internal political drama is going on. Being a stickler for the sanctity of a process that is likely to be abused is follow. And here, we are seeing the process abused by a party representing a minority of the population, in order to obstruct attempts to participate in international geopolitics on any terms other than "do what I say or I bomb you."
I would prefer a Senate capable of discussing legislation and treaties. Capable of compromising and behaving like adults. Capable of ratifying bills and treaties as part of a process in which discussion, negotiation, amendments, and give-and-take play a part. That is not the Senate we have, sadly. To get that, we're going to have to extract our collective heads from our collective colons and learn not to vote for short-sighted assholes who will shut down, break down, and obstruct the government when in the minority, while railroading past their opponents when in the majority. We can vote for conservatives, but we can't vote for short-sighted assholes.
The thing is, we need to change our Senate in order to have a Senate capable of negotiating treaties, as opposed to dumbass ultimatums chosen primarily to appeal to jingoist primary voters. That's going to take time. The world isn't going to obligingly go away and stop bothering us while we do that. Someone has to be capable of making deals for the nation to deal with emerging security threats, and for now, that is just about the only face the United States has to turn towards the outer world, because the Senate, the face we theoretically turn to the outside world, is busy bickering with itself and smacking itself and screaming insults at foreigners.
I'm not disputing that Trump has gotten hold of the authority. I'm claiming that this is a stupid decision which undermines the sole remaining meaningful negotiating authority within the US government, the Senate having taken itself out of the running years ago.It is the height or arrogance to imply that follow on Presidents somehow lack the exact same powers to direct the executive branch similarly, or to do as you are and declare that this substitutes for, and assumes the same authority of, the superseding treaty making power of the Senate.
Lecturing me on civics won't change this. The theory, which worked wonderfully for over two hundred years, has always been that the Senate, this great deliberative body, would ponder and consider and contemplate each treaty, decide whether or not to pass it, and clearly communicate to the executive branch if changes needed to be made. This has simply not been the reality since some time in the early Bush administration.
Fix that, and then we can talk about what the president should and should not be trying to do in loco parentis due to the Senate having abdicated its responsibility to be willing to discuss treaties seriously.
This is also the classic problem with abusing democratic processes for personal gain, or refusing to fulfill the constitutional obligations of one's office in order to achieve a political agenda.And I am under no illusions that Trump is doing this to reign in Obama's executive privilege party. It has that immediate effect, but I have no doubt that whatever he replaces it with in this case or any similar circumstance with other foreign policy problems will follow Obama's example. But it's Obama's example, set in stone from now on just like all the war making liberties the executive has assumed in Raj's example. This is of course the classic problem with turning a blind eye to these erosion of the democratic process (the Constitutionally hard coded ones, not the nebulous and subjective "norms"), that it rarely trends the other way once the momentum is on the side of executive power.
If you force a group within the government to start bypassing the Constitution to achieve basic requirements of governance like "is capable of keeping the lights on in government buildings" and "is capable of doing anything whatsoever about hostile Third World countries' budding nuclear arsenals," you are creating a problem. Namely, you guarantee that bypassing the Constitution will become the 'new normal.'
The Constitution is, famously, not a suicide pact. The reality is, and has always been, that no written or unwritten constitution will be honored after its mechanisms start acting in ways the state. Someone steps in to prevent total paralysis. For centuries, this has been an unspoken limit on how far anyone pushes their use of "checks and balances-" because if you check someone hard enough, the structure of checks and balances falls apart in a constitutional crisis.
The Republican Party has been engineering a constitutional crisis, albeit a slow-burning one, since at least 2010 and arguably 2008. I'm not going to say that the interim measures Obama took to try and deal with that were ideal or even good in an objective sense. But at the same time, I'm not going to ignore the responsibility of the people who made sure that the normal wheels of policy-making would grind to a halt for six years to minimize the risk of Obama being able to accomplish anything that he could spin to the media as a victory.
What I want is a Congress capable of doing its job, and a president capable of doing their job. Under Obama we had the second but not the first. Now we have neither. I don't see an inconsistency in thinking it's bad when a maliciously incompetent president knocks down the interim structure created by a competent president who couldn't build a proper structure because he was dealing with a maliciously incompetent Congress.You say this will hurt us treaty making power? Absolutely not. This is a resounding reminder to the world that when you deal with the United States our President is just the front office, not the board. If you want to be able to make a hand shake/wink wink back room agreement with a one man decision making authoritarian (hint hint), find yourself a China or Russia or North Korea to haggle with. The United States is a democratic Republic with a constitutional agreement with its people, and if that is too messy for you to deal with you can fuck off. And I expect the US to deal honestly on its own part in the same vein by respecting the rule making process of other democratic governments in reciprocation. And if you truly believed all your ranting regarding the dangers of Trump, and are not a giant hypocrite, you should be the first one insisting this be the case. Unless you want to be beholden to Trump's version of ignoring the Constitution with his phone and pen?
The problem isn't just Congressional cowardice. It's Congress effectively shutting down the United States' ability to make policy decisions, then daring the president to do something about it.And before you ask, no I am not absolving Congress from its blame here. It should not be the case that we can't rely on Presidents to take their oath to the Constitution seriously and police themselves. At the same time Congress should defend its own prerogatives when Presidents do not. We have checks and balances for a reason, and that requires self awareness and hard barriers. Presidents are usually filling in vacuums that Congress leaves as invitations to executive overreach, or are just cowards in the face of the Presidential bully pulpit. Just because I left my doors unlocked and and a pile of cash on the counter doesn't absolve the burglar of guilt, but I could prevent either of us from the resulting misfortune by locking my doors.
The branches of government are supposed to be able to work together, even as each has powers that can be used to restrain the other(s) if someone goes crazy. Both the ability to restrain acts of madness and the ability to work together for the greater good are important parts of the system.