You’ve got to be impressed by the audacity of George W. Bush’s claims of executive power. In the latest adventure in signing statements, the congress appropriated some money for defense with the proviso that none of the money be used to finance the construction of permanent military bases in Iraq. Bush signed the appropriation into law but with the proviso that he won’t abide by the restrictions. After all obeying the law he just signed “could inhibit the president’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
And, of course, it’s true. If we live in the sort of utterly lawless society that Bush appears to be envisioning, it’s very easy to take care that the nonexistent laws be faithfully executed. In a country with the rule of law, by contrast, the president has a lot of hard work that might distract from having people tortured.