The Post has a profile of John Yoo out today. Cass Sunstein, while disagreeing with Yoo, calls him “a very interesting and provocative scholar” who “doesn’t deserve the demonization to which he has been subject.” And Yoo himself makes the fair point that he himself was hardly in a position, as DOJ lawyer, to make policy.
All that aside, there’s something deeply pernicious about this man’s work. The Post gives some sense of the cadre of lawyers and ideological incubators he comes out of. Provocative as Yoo’s ideas may be, they are deeply authoritarian. And his claim that there is any historical basis for such absolute presidential authority is laughable. I try not to get too deep into legal arguments because I lack the necessary expertise. But on the historical points I’m on my own professional ground.
Democracy can be lost in a lot of ways. This is one of them. These theories of executive power deserve a thorough airing and discussion quite apart from the particular abuses they may have been used to justify.