The concept of executive privilege is unique to our system of national government, which is dependent upon interdependent separation of powers. The basic premise behind the concept is that the executive branch is permitted to defend itself against efforts by either the legislature or judiciary which the executive believes will impede upon its own independence. Generally, the way it works, at least as far as Congress is concerned, is that the executive branch claims executive privilege after either a witness or documents are subpoenaed, then meets with the relevant committee chair, then a compromise is reached. This avoids either side testing the concept, permits the executive to retain its independence, and permits Congress to use the power of the purse to maintain its legitimacy.
Well, this week, we got to see what happens when the idea enters the world of the bizarre. Congress called a member of the executive branch to determine why something happened. Was it to determine what we actually planned to do in Afghanistan? No. Was it to discover the President’s plans for adding jobs to the economy? Nope. Was it to clarify Obama’s health care plans? Don’t be silly.
This constitutional ‘crisis’ was induced by Congressional desire to find out how the class clowns of the week, the Salahis, snuck into the White House state dinner. So, naturally, they subpoenaed the White House Social Secretary, Desiree Rogers. Obama, who made claims stating that his administration would be transparent in its dealings with Congress, decided apparently that Ms. Rogers was so essential to the workings of the executive that they could not permit her to appear as a witness. This was such a silly claim that legislators did not even know how to respond.