The People Who Interpret the Constitution
Michael Kinsley begins his latest essay with a shocking line:
If there is anything scarier than a president who thinks he is above the law, it is a president who thinks that journalists aren't.But that isn't his position. Rather, it's one he attributes to the Boston Globe and the New York Times in their zeal to apply a different rule to the President than to themselves.
It truly is as if journalism considers being elected as prima facie proof of dishonesty and untrustworthiness. Through it all there's an implied corollary: Our lawyers are better than those who advise the president. They talk about Bush as if he just insisted on ignoring the law, without getting any legal advice. On what basis do they imply this? Why, because it makes it so much easier to call him a criminal.
Why should the Constitution allow the government to prosecute the provider of stolen government information but not the knowing recipient or to prosecute all other recipients of such information (like two lobbyists currently under investigation) but not journalists?Good questions all.
Maybe journalists sincerely believe they are entitled to such constitutional special treatment. Maybe they are even right about this, and the courts are wrong. But who wants to live in a society where every citizen and government official feels free to act according to his or her own personal interpretation of the Constitution, even after the Supreme Court has specifically said that this interpretation is wrong? President Bush would top my list of people I don't want wandering through the text and getting fancy ideas. But why should he stay out of the "I say what's constitutional around here" game if his tormentors in the press are playing it?