It wouldn’t have been difficult to predict this, but the stupidity of Deborah Solomon interviewing John Yoo does indeed approach the density of a degenerate dwarf star. After describing Yoo’s new book as “an eloquent, fact-laden history of audacious power grabs by American presidents,” Solomon offers him the chance to set forth, without challenge, his usual fact-free assertions about how the Constitutional framers really wanted to recreate the British monarchy.
The idea is that the president’s power grows and changes based on circumstances, and that’s what the framers of the Constitution wanted. They wanted it to exist so the president could react to crises immediately.
I continue to marvel at the willingness of self-described journalists to describe views like this as “history,” given that supporting historical evidence for them is in fact nowhere to be found. For Yoo’s interpretation to be even remotely plausible, we’d have to find something in the Constitutional debates proving that the framers imagined circumstances in which the middle third of Article 1, Section 8 would somehow be switched off. That would require as well that we discover some proof that the framers — operating on republican principles that far exceeded those existing in the British constitutional monarchy — suddenly decided that the president should enjoy greater war prerogatives than the dreaded king of England had at his disposal. And we’d have to overlook the fact that the convention of 1787 was primarily animated by concerns about the weak legislative authority of the federal government and not by some brew of anxieties about the absence of vague, emergency powers vested in its executive.
But hey, I’m sure Yoo’s book has a raft of eloquent, fact-laden ripostes to these small historical problems. Though I’d also imagine the book contains fewer dick jokes bout Bill Clinton, nor would it reveal the awkward fact that Yoo has no idea or interest in what his parents do for a living. Leave it to Deborah Solomon to produce something that actually makes reading John Yoo seem more appealing.