Brooks: Gee, it was pretty dumb to assert executive privilege, huh?

posted at 5:01 pm on June 24, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Forget the legalities of executive privilege and the partisan nature of the fight over the contempt charge, David Brooks told PBS on Friday night.  Even if the assertion of the privilege is legal, which almost everyone agrees it isn’t, it’s still a dumb response to a dumb program — and it’s only going to benefit the Republicans:

“I’m in general a defender of executive privilege,” Brooks said. “I think it’s important for an administration to be able to have conversations about policy that will be private, so they can have a normal deliberative process. In this case — whether legally the administration is on solid ground in invoking it — that is a gray area. Politically, I think it’s stupid.”

Brooks explained the right time to use executive privilege would be with a national security issue. However, in this instance, the right course of action might have been to lay out for the public how the policy was a mistake.

“I think politically it’s stupid, because it is one thing if you’re invoking executive privilege over some national security issue. This is a policy everybody admits was profoundly stupid. Why are you not saying, ‘OK, this was a stupid policy, let’s get it out there and let’s figure out how it came about.’”

I’m also a general defender of executive privilege — when it relates to non-delegable Article II powers, which the Constitution explicitly keeps separate from Congress and the judiciary.  It shouldn’t apply to people within federal agencies, which derive part of their authority by delegation from Congress as well as the executive branch.  That’s what the courts decided in Espy, and that’s why even the weak argument for “deliberative process” won’t work here, unless it relates to involvement by Barack Obama and/or his inner circle of advisers working to present Obama policy choices on gun-running.

That brings us to the foolishness of this particular assertion of privilege.  Few in the media were paying attention to this scandal, which means that most voters still have no idea that the US government allowed thousands of untracked guns to be sold to drug cartels, and that those guns are responsible for hundreds of murders in Mexico and the deaths of two American law-enforcement officers … so far.  By asserting executive privilege, Obama has assured that the media will be taking a much closer look at the scandal, and that’s bad news for Democrats:

“I think it is a winner for the Republicans,” Brooks said. “It’s funny — it hasn’t really registered with the country yet, what the government has done. When — if — it gets out: ‘Wait, they were sending guns to Mexico?’ — I think it’s such a thing that will startle people. I think it’s a clear winner for the Republicans. And what the Obama administration wants to do with this executive privilege: get it lost in the court system, push it past the election, and then hopefully it will go away.”

Could that strategy work?  Almost certainly not.  While some media outlets yawned at the bodies piling up from Operation Fast and Furious, they’ll have to report on a President that’s hiding documents relating to it through executive privilege.  That will force them to explain the scandal from the beginning sooner or later, and as Brooks says, most people will say, “We were doing what?”

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What they’re trying to hide is not that they were perfectly fine with hundreds of Mexicans getting killed in order to promote stricter gun laws. What they’re trying to hide is that they were perfectly fine with hundreds of Mexicans getting killed in order to curry favor with Hispanic voters by portraying those who are anti-illegal immigration as irresponsible gun nuts whose pro 2nd amendment attitudes are contributing to the violence that is inspiring all of this supposed anti-Hispanic sentiment.

This wasn’t about cracking down on the right to bear arms. It was about using the issue of the right to bear arms to demonize those who want to seal the border.

ardenenoch on June 24, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Don L on June 24, 2012 at 5:25 PM

You know, I like your forthrightness and precision in identifying what is wrong about the whole Fast and Furious debacle.

onlineanalyst on June 24, 2012 at 7:53 PM

Bad news for zero either way. If he didn’t invoke E.P. he could throw von holder under the bus, but I bet von holder has enough dirt on zero to eat him alive, even by liberal standards. If he does, and he did invoke it, zero is now firmly tied to covering up the probability that in emails and memos he told people not to worry about it, 300 dead mexicans is no biggie at all when measuring it against the nullification of the 2nd amendment….the only real thing keeping the government from going door to door taking what the fluke ever they want, and killing you in the process without even an ‘oops’.

Yeah, either way zero and von holder need to be wearing jump suits forever.

Wolfmoon on June 24, 2012 at 8:26 PM

However, in this instance, the right course of action might have been to lay out for the public how the policy was a mistake.

only one problem here, barry has NEVER made a mistake,ever. if you don’t believe it, just ask him…he is without equal.

i absolutely despise that man, what an ***

DiabloAzure on June 24, 2012 at 8:35 PM

I miss the days when news was, you know, reported.

Cyhort on June 24, 2012 at 5:31 PM

That was a very, very long time ago. I cringe when I recall all the news stories that accuracy and the truth were hidden, and probably remain hidden, for the last 40 years. Without the New Media, this would have joined them.

Look at the number of people that are starting to say: We did…. what?

98ZJUSMC on June 24, 2012 at 8:41 PM

They Voted Obama In Because He Was Black. 

We’re Voting Obama Out Because He Is Useless.

J_Crater on June 24, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Everyone, repeat after me: What did he know and when did he know it?

/up twinkles

Mr. Arrogant on June 24, 2012 at 9:54 PM

Fast and Furious and OCDETF Whom is executive privilege protecting?
By Andrew C. McCarthy explains why Obama finally used executive privilege.

“…Why is President Obama denying Congress and the public access to critical information about his administration’s part in a shockingly ill-conceived investigation that resulted in the murder of Brian Terry, a heroic federal Border Patrol agent and veteran U.S. Marine. And when I say “his administration’s part,” that, too, is intentional…

…If, prior to Agent Terry’s murder, plans were already being made for Attorney General Holder to appear at the anticipated press conference to announce arrests, it is inconceivable that discussions about the case were not ongoing between the U.S. attorney’s office and Main Justice — which, of course, would already have been quite familiar with the case because of the OCDETF designation and the wiretaps.

OCDETF cases get the attention of the Justice Department’s top hierarchy. What gets that level of attention gets the attorney general’s attention. And what gets the attorney general’s attention very often gets the president’s attention.”

davod on June 24, 2012 at 10:12 PM

Obama’s crease in his trousers will carry the day!

Herb on June 24, 2012 at 10:17 PM

But does he still have that smart crease in his pants?

petefrt on June 24, 2012 at 10:28 PM

Everyone defending Obama and Holder should read McCarthy’s seminal piece at NRO… Best article I’ve seen on Fast & Furious…

Khun Joe on June 24, 2012 at 10:32 PM

Dumb? How can that be?

Why…this is the “administration of Valedictorians”, is it not?

Jaibones on June 24, 2012 at 11:21 PM

No sh!t, Sherlock. But then again, just about everything you do is either dumb and/or a fascist power grab.

MelonCollie on June 24, 2012 at 11:27 PM

By claiming executive priviledge, if Holder goes, are these documents still protected so that Congress has to go to court to see them? If the whole purpose of this is to keep them hidden until after the election, it would actually serve that purpose. I’m just wondering, if Obama loses and the Romney administration appoints different people to the Justice Department, can they release these documents?

I never trust Democrats to do the right thing and I never trust them to be using something like this for the obvious, they’re hiding something and you can never be sure what they’re hiding and who they’re trying to protect. We’ll find out how far they’re willing to carry this, I’m just wondering about the aftermath.

bflat879 on June 24, 2012 at 11:37 PM

only one problem here, barry has NEVER made a mistake,ever. if you don’t believe it, just ask him…he is without equal.

i absolutely despise that man, what an ***

DiabloAzure on June 24, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Obama has never made a mistake. He thought he might have one time but then it turned out he was wrong. /s

ghostwalker1 on June 25, 2012 at 12:03 AM

It’s becoming tiresome hearing the ‘talking heads’ excuse JugEars actions as if they are some sort of hijinks by Ferris Bueller or antics of The Beaver.

socalcon on June 25, 2012 at 1:10 AM

Brooks: Gee, it was pretty dumb to assert executive privilege, huh?

I’m sorry to even mention this. But was I the only one to notice the wrd dumb was never used by Brooks. Or am I just that badly mistaken. Stupid and dumb are different, yes?

Bmore on June 25, 2012 at 3:50 AM


Bmore on June 25, 2012 at 3:51 AM

What if Matthews’ magical tingling leg met Brooks’ impeccably creased pantleg… Think that would open some sort of wormhole?

Chuck Schick on June 24, 2012 at 5:19 PM

LOL…“worm” wasn’t the word that came to mind here after reading your comment, Chuck.(although I’ll allow that Brooks is one).

DevilsPrinciple on June 25, 2012 at 4:19 AM

Shorter David Brooks: “This executive privilege thing might be dumb, but just check out the crease on those pants!”

To be fair, I almost didn’t recognize Brooks without his floppy shoes and red nose.

Physics Geek on June 25, 2012 at 8:24 AM

Our local gannet rag had an editorial by leonard pitts bemoaning the day the US woke up and realized they had lost all their daily newspapers. Made it seem that we were all dolts that no longer cared about news.

Not one word at all about the fact that the USSR pravda did a better job actually reporting news than US papers do.

He’s just a clueless yes man syncopat for obama and the libs. He’ll end up unemployed or working for al gore’s network whining about the tea party and the KKK.

acyl72 on June 25, 2012 at 8:52 AM

Brooks: Gee, I it was pretty dumb to assert executive privilege, huh?

You betcha.

FineasFinn on June 25, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Everyone defending Obama and Holder should read McCarthy’s seminal piece at NRO… Best article I’ve seen on Fast & Furious…Khun Joe on June 24, 2012 at 10:32 P M

Thanks for the link. What a great article. Now I understand the why’s and wherefore’s and what to look for so much better.

Herb on June 25, 2012 at 11:54 AM

Brooks and other (so called) conservative pundits falsely refer to F&F as a ‘failed policy’ … wrong. It was almost a complete success but was discovered before they could consumate the narrative. The Phoenix BATF director was told to bundle the long gun sales so that it would become an issue toward reinstituting the Clinton 1994 AWB that sunsetted in 2004. Op Fast & Furious was planned and executed (no pun intended) almost to perfection. The 2,500 guns is a LOW BALL number BTW. Three HUNDRED plus dead in Mexico; DEA/ICE agents Jaime Zapata (killed with F&F weapon) and his partner Victor Avila critically wounded; Marine and CBP officer Brian Terry killed with an AK-47 bought in Phoenix (a F&F sanctioned buy), walked to Mexico and brought back by a Coyote ambusher used to murder Terry. Oh, and at the time DHS Director Janet Napalitano had ordered that CBP officers must first use ‘non-lethal’ measures during encounters with smugglers … i.e. ‘bean-bag’ guns. ROE’s like this get soldiers like Brian Terry KILLED! Even so, a S&W .40 pistol ain’t much of a match against a 7.62×39 rifle cartridge.
Janet and her handlers have much to answer for. Let’s hope that We The People have the fortitude to get to the truth.

Missilengr on June 25, 2012 at 1:03 PM