As has been reported across the Hoosier blogosphere, Senator & Presumptive Presidential Hopeful Evan Bayh had lunch with a score of area bloggers today. I confess I've never been a fan of the Senator, but I was grateful for the opportunity to get to sit down with him. I think it was a successful event for him and whoever it was on his staff that thought it up should get a promotion.
Most of the questions I was interested in have already been pretty well dissected either here or over at Advance Indiana or Shakespeare's Sister or other places online, so I won't repeat anything they probably said better than I could and for the most part, I agree with their analysis.
I will, however, take this opportunity to get back on message in my personal campaign to see Bush and the bulk of his administration run out of Washington. One of the Senators answers touched upon Bush's pre-emptive interpretation of laws passed by congress through the use of so-called signing statements. Bush has issued over 750 signing statements in which he either describes his interpretation of the bill he just signed, or is arguing about which parts of the law he is going to ignore. A blatant attempt to have first say on how our laws are interpreted.
In answer to my question asking what could be done to counter Bush's influencing of the how new laws are enforced and interpreted, the Senator pointed out that the only way to blunt this power grab is through good judicial appointments. That we need to find judges that will ignore these questionable interpretations. While I agree, there's not much we can do about that for another two years, is there? By then, I'm sure Bush will have hundreds more of these signing statements in place just waiting for his current appointees to interpret in his favor.
I suppose I should have asked the Senator if he agreed with the principle of signing statements, or if he would follow a similar practice if he were to ever be elected president, but I actually didn't finish my question before he started to answer. I admit the room was noisy - he even had me repeat the beginning of my question because he couldn't hear - but what do you do? Shapiro's is a busy place during the lunch hour and a plastic divider curtain doesn't keep out much noise.
I still believe someone needs to stand up and call these signing statements what they truly are: attempts by the Bush administration to cherry pick which laws they will obey and then tell the judicial branch how to interpret them when they get busted. It's a disgusting ploy to stack the deck in his favor.
The Senator didn't touch on this particular point very much, but I commend him for mentioning it before I got to my question. At least he realizes that this is bad governance and questionable constitutional law.
I've always voted for the Senator, but at some point, I think the Senator is going to need to break out of his mold if he's hopeful of playing to a national audience. His middle-of-the-road, don't-take-a-stand-unless-you-have-to way of doing business that plays so well to Hoosiers, isn't going to play to a more sophisticated national audience. The current trend in polling shows the Senator at around 3% among the party faithful for the 2008 nomination. There are many days between now and November 2008, granted, but Mr. Bayh has a lot of ground to cover if he wants to find his name at the top of the ticket in two years.