Tag Archives: John Dean

Interview: John Dean


(In 2008, former Nixon administration counsel John Dean was in Austin for the Netroots Nation convention. I sat down with him to discuss the state of American politics).

There’s a famous story of heavyweight Republican consultant Karl Rove brushing off poor GOP poll numbers just prior to the November 2006 election, telling a reporter, “You have your numbers; I havethe numbers.” Former White House counsel John Dean argues that the Republicans have taken the same approach to basic freedoms. “I think it’s probably true with all provisions of the Constitution,” explained Dean. “They pretty much read them the way they want to.”

Before his panel appearance at the Netroots Nation convention, the onetime White House counsel to President Richard Nixon and, in recent years, constitutional commentator, appeared at a July 17 fundraiser for Austin’s North by Northwest Democrats at the North Lamar Waterloo Ice House. Much of the Net­roots community has reacted strongly against the July 9 U.S. Senate vote passing the new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The law effectively rewrites the Fourth Amend­ment, the protection against unreasonable search and seizure, to fit the administration’s world-view – that national security trumps the Constitution and the president makes his own law. Dean decried the decision and said, “It’s just amazing that the weakest president since Nixon can get through the amendments to the FISA bill he just did, when most Amer­i­cans who know anything about it are horrified by it.” But he added that the Internet community shouldn’t feel singled out by the administration in its spinning of the Constitution. “With the Second Amendment, long before the Supreme Court ruled that [the right to bear arms] was about personal rights, they’ve been reading it that way,” he noted.

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