, 22 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
A president invoking emergency powers for a manufactured crisis. Reminds me of another president who used his authority this way.
Oh yes, that would be President Richard Nixon. Let’s take a look back at the history.
The misuse of presidential power was at the heart of Nixon’s downfall.
Nixon entered office in 1969, when the national standing of the presidency remained strong.
Nixon flexed his presidential muscle to push his agenda without congressional consent. Democrats controlled the House and Senate.
He impounded congressional funds: “The Constitutional right of the President of the United States to impound funds . . . when the spending of money would mean either increasing prices or increasing taxes for all the people—that right is absolutely clear."
Other presidents used this power, but not in the same scale or scope.
He conducted secret military operations, such as the bombing of Cambodia.
The National Guard killed four students on May 4, 1970 at Kent State University when they protested the president’s actions.
President Nixon went after the free press, intimidating reporters and trying to block publication of the Pentagon Papers. The Supreme Court pushed back with The New York Times v. The United States (1971). law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/t…
Nixon did not back down. He would issue forty-three vetoes during his time in the Oval Office. senate.gov/reference/Legi…
In 1973, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., published The Imperial Presidency: “I fear that those uncritical theories of the strong presidency that historians and political scientists, myself among them, were propagating with such enthusiasm in the fifties may have come home to roost.”
With the Band, Bob Dylan captured the fury about presidential power in the classic line from “It’s All Right Ma," sung with new vigor: “Even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked!” videos.sapo.mz/3QHla9S9zbDDiT…
The Watergate scandal was not really about the break-in. It was about Nixon’s misuse of presidential power. The “smoking gun” taped revealed how far the president was willing to go to obstruct justice. In July 1974, Republicans finally joined Democrats to say enough.
In August 1974, Nixon resigned.
Congress passed a number of reforms to reign in the Imperial Presidency, including the budget reform of 1974 and the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which was meant to impose limits on the Commander-in-Chief.
Nixon was never apologetic. In a famous television interview with David Frost in 1977, he expressed his shocking views on the totality of presidential power.
Much of the country didn’t agree. Nixon woke the country up to the dangers of what happens when our presidents are granted too much power and when that power falls into the wrong hands.
Much of the country didn’t agree. Nixon woke the country up to the dangers of what happens when our presidents are granted too much power and when that power falls into the wrong hands.
@KevinMKruse and I discussed the limits of reform in our @nytimes piece about presidential power since the 1970s, a central theme in #FaultLines nytimes.com/2019/01/09/opi…
Looks like we are facing the crisis of presidential power all over again.
What will Congress do this time?
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