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Jewish World Review March 27, 2000 /20 Adar II, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Treaties, triggers, tobacco and tyrants -- WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE the framers were so insistent that only virtuous men serve as president? To set a moral example for the nation? Oh yes, but there's much more to it than that.

Before you Clintonoids wrongly assume I am waxing nostalgic for impeachment and urge me "to move on," you should hear me out. Despite the brilliant scheme of checks and balances incorporated into the Constitution, the system is not foolproof against the devices of clever and deceitful men.

No, I'm not referring to "lying under oath about sex." I'm talking about Clinton's other flagrant abuses of executive authority making headlines this week. They all illustrate just how much damage one Constitution-disrespecting president and his administration can do to the cause of freedom in this country.

Last week, President Clinton urged India to comply with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which the Senate soundly rejected last year, and the Kyoto (global warming) Treaty, which he hasn't even submitted to the Senate for ratification because he knows he doesn't have the votes. In utter disregard for the Senate's constitutional role in these matters, Clinton presses forward with the unabashed arrogance of a totalitarian dictator.

On the environmental front, the EPA has announced that it will not allow certain California farmers to harvest timber on their own property because it would violate new water-quality regulations governing a river adjacent to their land. Never mind the devastating economic impact this could have on landowners whose livelihood depends on their land use. Never mind that the EPA lacks statutory authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate such "non-point sources" of pollution.

On to tobacco. In an excellent article in the American Spectator, Byron York chronicles the extensive efforts of the Clinton Justice Department to bring Big Tobacco to its knees. In 1996, the federal government refused to join states in their litigation against tobacco companies, saying they had no legal authority do so.

In the meantime, the states achieved an enormous settlement with tobacco, whetting Clinton's appetite beyond containment. When he couldn't convince Congress to intervene, he directed the always-compliant Janet Reno to reverse her earlier decision declining to involve the Justice Department. Never mind that there had been no change in the law authorizing Justice to proceed against cigarette makers.

Clinton would not be deterred by that annoying nuisance of a document known as the Constitution. He proceeded primarily under the Medical Care Recovery Act, a narrowly defined statute allowing the federal government to recoup medical expenses on behalf of military personnel injured by civilians. Using a tortured interpretation, Clinton argued that the statute allows the government to recover against tobacco companies the medical costs expended on behalf of Medicare patients due to smoking. York notes that "It's an interpretation of the law that strikes some experts as almost breathtaking in its audacity." Stay tuned.

In another audacious move, Clinton's FDA tried to regulate tobacco as a drug. Thankfully this week, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, slapped down the FDA's attempted usurpation of authority. The ever-brazen Clinton was unfazed by the ruling, spinning it as a victory because the Court recognized tobacco as "one of our most troubling public health problems facing our nation today." He knows that Gore, if elected, can rectify this constitutional obstacle by appointing activist judges.

To top it all off, the administration this week bullied gun-maker Smith & Wesson into adopting gun safety measures that Congress had so far refused to legally mandate. In exchange, the company was released from liability in lawsuits brought by more than 15 cities, the Federal Housing Authority and other groups seeking to hold manufacturers legally responsible for violence caused by their weapons. The lawsuit was never about recovering money, but using the courts as a weapon to circumvent the democratic will of Congress. Adding insult to injury, HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo has promised to use the economic coercion of the federal government to force other recalcitrant gun manufacturers to get on board.

Without some modicum of honor being exhibited by our elected and appointed officials, the Constitution is hardly worth the paper it is written on. Without some respect for their proper constitutional roles, we are all at the whim of their capricious abuses of authority.

JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.



03/22/00: Media to Bush: Go left, young man
03/20/00: Stop the insanity
03/15/00: OK Al Gore: Let's go negative
03/13/00: Deifying of the center
03/08/00: The media, the establishment and the people
03/01/00: McCain's coalition-busting daggers in GOP's heart
02/28/00: Bush's silver lining in McMichigan
02/24/00: A conservative firewall, after all
02/22/00: Bush or four more of Clinton-Gore?
02/16/00: Substance trumps process
02/14/00: The campaign finance reform mirage
02/09/00: President McCain: End of the GOP as we know it?
02/07/00: From New Hampshire to South Carolina
02/02/00: SDI must fly
01/31/00: Veep gores Bradley
01/26/00: The issues gap
01/24/00: GOP: Exit, stage left
01/20/00: Nationalizing congressional elections
01/18/00: Do voters really prefer straight talk?
01/12/00: Media's McCain efforts may backfire
01/10/00: Conservative racism myth
01/05/00: Just one more year of Clintonian politics
01/03/00: McMedia?
12/27/99: Al Gore: Bullish on government
12/22/99: Bradley's full-court press
12/20/99: Bush: Rendering unto Caesar
12/15/99: Beltway media bias
12/13/99: White House ambulance chasing
12/08/99: Clinton's labor pains
12/06/99:The lust for power
12/01/99: In defense of liberty
11/29/99: Are Republicans obsolete?
11/24/99: Say you're sorry, Mr. President
11/22/99: Architects of victory
11/17/99: Trump's tax on freedom
11/15/99: GOP caves again
11/10/99: Triangulation and 'The Third Way'
11/08/99: Sticks and stones
11/03/99: Keyes vs. media lapdogs
11/01/99: Signs of the times
10/27/99: The false charge of isolationism
10/25/99: A matter of freedom
10/20/99: Clinton's mini-meltdown
10/18/99: Senate GOP shows statesmanship
10/13/99: Senate must reject nuclear treaty
10/11/99: Bush bites feeding hand
10/06/99: Jesse accidentally opens door for Pat
10/04/99: Clinton and his media enablers
09/29/99: Reagan: Big-tent conservatism
09/27/99: The Clinton/Gore taint?
09/22/99: Have gun (tragedy), will travel
09/20/99: Hillary's blunders and bloopers
09/15/99: GOP must remain conservative
09/13/99:Time for Bush to take charge, please
09/10/99: Bush's education plan: Dubya confounds again
09/07/99: Pat, savior or spoiler?
09/02/99: Character doesn't matter?
08/30/99: Should we judge?
08/25/99: Dubyah's drug question: Not a hill to die on
08/23/99: Should Dubyah start buying soap ... for all that mud?
08/16/99: 'W' stands for 'winner'
08/11/99: The truth about tax cuts
08/09/99: Hillary: Threading the needle
08/04/99: What would you do?
08/02/99: No appeasement for China
07/30/99: Hate Crimes Bill: Cynical Symbolism
07/26/99: Itís the 'moderates', stupid
07/21/99: JFK Jr. and Diana: the pain of privilege
07/19/99: Smith, Bush and the GOP
07/14/99: GOP must be a party of ideas
07/12/99: Gore's gender gap
07/08/99: Clintonís faustian bargain: our justice
07/06/99: The key to Bush's $36 million
06/30/99: Gore: a soda in every fountain
06/28/99: 'Sacred wall' or religious barrier?
06/23/99: GOP must lead in foreign policy
06/21/99: Crumbs of compassion
06/16/99: Compassionate conservatism: face-lift or body transplant?
06/10/99: Victory in Kosovo? Now What?