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Friday, September 22, 2006

309. Bush Postpones 2008 Election

Cites Constitutional Power to Protect Nation's Security

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2008. President Bush, citing his authority as
Commander in Chief of the armed forces and his inherent constitutional
power over foreign affairs, today ordered a postponement of the 2008
presidential election in order "to protect the American people in our
war on terror."

In a speech during a surprise visit to Baghdad, where he celebrated the
summer solstice with the troops, Mr. Bush told the nation that the
election will be "rescheduled as soon as a change in leadership does not
create a security threat and not a second later. When the Iraqis stand
up, we'll vote."

"Elections are important," the President acknowledged. "I know that. I
believe in elections. I'm President because of an election, sort of. But
protecting the nation from another 9/11 is more important than holding
an election precisely on time."

The President noted that as Commander in Chief, he had already approved
telephone wiretapping without court warrant, incarcerated alleged "enemy
combatants" indefinitely without trial and, in a February 2002 order,
now rescinded, had authorized the armed forces to ignore the Geneva
Conventions when "consistent with military necessity," so long as
everyone was treated "humanely."

"If I can do all that, I can defer an election," the President
said. "Look, as between not voting on time and getting locked up without
all those Geneva rules and such, which is worse?"

In a Washington press conference following the President's speech,
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales laid out the legal basis for his
department's conclusion that the President could postpone the election.

"Legally, it's simple," Mr. Gonzales said. "It depends on what the
meaning of 'four years' is. The Constitution says the President 'shall
hold his office during the term of four years.' It does not say 'only
four years' or 'four years and not a day more.' The Framers intended
'four years' to be a preference, not a rigid number. We should not take
it literally any more than the words 'hold his office' means no woman
can be President. A woman is running now.

"Time meant something different in 1789," Mr. Gonzales added. "This was
before airline schedules and self-winding watches. People didn't run
their lives by the clock. Many Americans didn't have clocks."

In a speech on the Senate floor, Joseph Lieberman (IND-Conn.) supported
the President's decision. "While I do not believe we should lightly
suspend the exercise of the franchise," he said, "protection of the
nation cannot be and must not be a partisan issue. As Americans, we can
all agree that security is the most important job of a President. We can
have a country without an election, but we cannot have an election
without a country. It's as simple as that."

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), the likely Democratic nominee,
had no immediate comment, but her office said she will hold a news
conference following the results of early polling. A spokesperson for
her campaign, granted anonymity because she was not authorized to speak
to the press about anything, said the senator "is absolutely opposed to
postponing the election as such, but she is amenable to rescheduling the
day designated for the actual vote. There is a difference."

Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said
he was "troubled" that he had not been consulted on the President's
decision. He vowed to "hold hearings following the day that should have
been election day if I am chairman of the committee at that time.
Unfortunately, we're backlogged on judicial nominations at the moment,
and then there's the summer recess. People have plans and non-refundable

At his press conference, Mr. Gonzales denied that the Supreme Court's
2006 rejection of military tribunals meant that the President could not
delay an election. That decision, known as Hamdan, rested on federal
statutes and the Geneva Accords. "Hamdan was about trials, not voting,"
he explained. "Geneva doesn't apply to voting. It's a mistake to confuse
the two."

Asked if he expected a court challenge to the President's decision, Mr.
Gonzales said he was "resigned to the prospect that some may cynically
try to use this for their own political advantage." But he added that he
was "confident that if the case reaches the Supreme Court, five Justices
will agree with our interpretation of 'four years.'"

The above piece is from the current issue of The Nation magazine. It was written by Stephen Gillers, Law Professor at New York University. In case your mystified, this is a satire. But sometimes in a mad world, satires turn into reality.


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