OK, and Your Humble Blogger has not recently indulged himself in giving worthless advice to future presidents, but here is a nice bit to be distilled, kept in a bottle, and opened when the time is right.
First of all, keep in mind that your party may lose the Senate at the midterm. That’s assuming you have the Senate for the first two years, in which case make use of it to get things passed. But assume that for the second half of your (first) term, the opposition party will be in control of oversight and subpoenas and hearings and all the mechanisms of troublemaking. Also, assume that the opposition party will be controlled by crazy, vicious, partisan bastards facing primary challenges from even crazier, more vicious, more partisan bastards, and that screwing you over is the best thing they can do for their careers. It might not happen, but you plan for contingencies.
OK, now assume that your attorney general will have to resign, while the opposition party is in control of the Senate. You don’t have to assume that he will be forced out in disgrace. He could be hit by a bus. He could be shot by a crazy person. He could be directly assumed to heaven by a golden chariot. You’d still have to get a new one confirmed.
Now, the advice. When you are deciding on policies, if at any point you are considering embarking on a policy that—let’s call it policy A—a policy that will, if the Senate finds out about it, come up in a hearing with confirmation hinging on the question Is policy A legal?, then reject that policy. If the nominee is put in a position where he has to either state that policy A is legal and be rejected, or state that it is illegal and expose you and your staff to prosecution, then you have made a serious error. If any newspaper prints that “Fear of opening the door to criminal or civil liability for [policy A], whether in an American court or in courts overseas, appeared to loom large” in the confirmation process, then you have made a serious error.
This is independent of Policy A being a bad and useless policy, which Our Only President’s policies are. This is also independent of the actual legality or illegality of the matter. Your Humble Blogger was struck by the Schroedinger’s Cat sense in the New York Times that waterboarding is neither legal nor illegal yet, that the President was not liable, nor was he free from liability, whilst the nominee dithers. And, of course, that is how the legal system works; actions are legal or illegal when they have been found by a court to be in violation of a law, and before then they are not anything. Which does let anybody off the hook. No, the point is that having your buddy tell you that Policy A really is legal, if you look at it right does not mean that it’s legal. And the real point is that when you become President of the United States of America, you should hold yourself to a standard of can those bastards nail me for this, because they will.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,