Infatuated With Executive Authority

Steve Chapman on Giuliani and his fans:

What the enchantment with Rudy suggests is that the GOP has morphed from a party that reveres limited government to a party that is girlishly infatuated with executive authority.

In 1964, presidential nominee Barry Goldwater declared it “the cause of Republicanism to resist concentrations of power.” George W. Bush, by contrast, has done everything possible to create a concentration of power in the White House, while circumventing the checks traditionally provided by Congress and the courts.

Giuliani would not be one to reverse that development. His instincts bring to mind another New York Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, who thought the presidency “should be a very powerful office” and that “the president should be a very strong man who uses without hesitation every power the position yields.” He’s the sort of guy to put the bully in “bully pulpit.”

In office, he frequently pressed against the limits of his authority, and then kept going. One instance was his attempt to evict the Brooklyn Museum of Art because he objected to one painting in a temporary exhibit–an action that a federal court ruled unconstitutional. He sued New York magazine for daring to make a joke about him in its ads.

Legendary lawyer Floyd Abrams noted in his book, “Speaking Freely,” that “over 35 separate successful lawsuits were brought against the city under Giuliani’s stewardship arising out of his insistence on doing the one thing that the 1st Amendment most clearly forbids: using the power of government to restrict or punish speech critical of government itself.”

(Hat tip to Gene Healy, who adds, “The man who pioneered creative RICO prosecutions and perp-walks for white-collar crime doesn’t have a libertarian bone in his body.”)

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