The Bush-administration lawyer and advocate of virtually unlimited executive power in war dismisses as "simpleminded" concerns he once shared
John Yoo is the Bush-administration lawyer best known for his expansive view of what the president is empowered to do in wartime (he thinks, for example, that crushing the testicles of an innocent child might be legal, depending on the circumstances). On Ricochet, an enjoyable right-leaning forum for conversation, we occasionally cross paths. And he has just responded to my argument that Tea Partiers are typically inconsistent in their embrace of "constitutional conservatism."
Put simply, I think Tea Partiers are strict constructionists when it comes to domestic affairs, but ready to concede extreme powers to the executive branch so long as it's in the name of fighting terrorism. (Or the War on Drugs. Or gangs. Or mosques near Ground Zero.) Here's the short excerpt from my piece that Prof. Yoo was read by the capable host of a Ricochet podcast:
Establishment conservatives and Tea Partiers alike are more likely than not to defend Dick Cheney, David Addington, the Patriot Act, the indefinite detention of American citizens, stripping the judiciary of its power, presidential assassinations of American citizens, and all the rest. Many of these people claim to be constitutional conservatives, but are ardent about that disposition only in domestic affairs. If national security, police powers, or foreign affairs are implicated, they are constitutional conservatives in name only, blind to executive branch excesses corrosive to individual liberty and often even to the constitution itself.
Said the host: "What do you say to a guy like Conor who says, 'You can't have it both ways. Unchecked power is unchecked power. It's going to erode individual freedom.'"