THE FOUNDING Fathers designed the federal government to have a strong legislature and a comparatively weak executive.
Having recently won independence from an oppressive and tyrannical monarch, the authors of the U.S. Constitution had no intention of allowing their fledgling new nation to be subject to the whims of a single individual.
So it is that Article I of that governing document sets forth the powers of the representative body, intending it to serve as a check on the executive. Yet, in recent years, lawmakers have been content to shirk that responsibility and, beset by squabbling and dysfunction, have allowed the power of the presidency to grow unchecked.
That was true when George W. Bush served in the Oval Office. Though he entered his first term weakened by a contested and controversial election, Bush and his administration collected sweeping authority in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Civil libertarians warned to no avail