With all the political hoopla going around today about Obama invoking Executive Privilege protecting Justice Department records relating to the ill-fated "Fast & Furious" gun trafficking program, it does not surprise me that the predictable political rhetoric almost immediately began to circulate. Opponents vehemently claim Obama is now engaged in a "cover-up" to protect Attorney General Eric Holder because the White House knew all along that the Justice Department has been lying to Congress about the gun program. Blogs are afire today with rants about illegality and the notion that when Congress subpoenas documents, denying them is tantamount to an immediate admission of guilt. Message boards are filled with chants for Obama's impeachment, along with Holder's. What folks don't seem to realize or just don't care to know, is that Executive Privilege has been routinely used under Article II to protect any documents that the Executive deems "privileged" or "Confidential' even from viewing by Congress. This is a vital part of the system of Checks and Balances and Separation of Powers built into the U.S. Constitution by the Framers. Is Obama violating the Constitution by proclaiming "Executive Privilege." No. Are both political parties using this for election year gamesmanship? Yes. Does the public have any clue what the invocation of Executive Privilege means? Unfortunately no. Just to keep the record fair, let's look at the use of Executive Privilege by a few modern presidents. Ronald Reagan used Executive Privilege to keep documents away from a prying Congress no less than three (3) times as president. George H.W. Bush used Executive Privilege to tell Congress "Don't even think about it" once during his presidency. Bill Clinton used Executive Privilege fourteen (14) times (hey did you hear Monica Lewinsky turned 50! OY!). George W. Bush invoked Executive Privilege no less than six (6) times because he was protecting the sanctity of the Executive Branch from Congressional intrusion, most of which was also politically motivated. Obama has invoked it just this one time. Once! Then why the outrage? Why the vitriol that he is engaging in an illegal "Cover-Up?" Why are the blogs and ideologically oriented media falling along political lines on this? Why isn't anyone speaking about reality as it relates to Executive Privilege and why it is even available to a president to use? The first to use it was none other than George Washington, and we know he had a lot to cover-up during his out of control presidency. Get a grip folks. Political games are being played. You might want to learn the history and the rules of the game now that it is being played. Presidential scorecard anyone?
Daniel R. Rubin is an Attorney, Educator, Lecturer and National Award Winning Author. He is a retired adjunct professor of American History who also taught Advanced Placement United States Government and American Politics in Venice, Florida.