John Dean dons Captain Obvious helmet.

Findlaw brings us this essay from John Dean (yep, THAT John Dean) arguing that the real problem with the recently enacted Protect America Act of 2007 isn’t so much the potential for widespread individual liberties abuse but rather the staggering expansion of executive power at the expense of Congress.

OK, so it’s a pretty goddamn obvious point, but one that bears repeating ad nauseam. As Dean correctly notes, “The most stunning aspect of the Democrats’ capitulation is their abandoning of their institutional responsibility to hold the president accountable.” Members of Congress have constitutional responsibilities that they’re not just ignoring but knowingly ceding to the president at an alarming rate.

Pimping the chimerical war on t’rr’r is to be expected from Republicans. After all, they have nothing else. Substantively, the Republican Party is an empty husk. We can, and should, expect much better from Democrats, who took control of Congress last year based largely on expectations that they’d do something — anything — to avoid the abuses of executive power in which they’re now complicit.

According to Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment, produced in 1974 by the Impeachment Inquiry Staff of the House Judiciary Committee in connection with Tricky Dick’s madcap shenanigans, aggrandizing one’s office at the expense of a co-equal branch of government was considered fully sufficient grounds for a “high crimes and misdemeanors” impeachment back in the day. Lots of luck pinning that on BushCo, though.

House of Representatives: “We’re impeaching you for exceeding your authority at our expense.”

Bush Administration: “But you said it was all right.”

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