Oh, Please:
President Bush is now complaining that Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey is being treated 'unfairly' because some Senate Democrats are opposing his nomination based on his failure to state a position about the lawfulness of waterboarding:
  The White House began a campaign Thursday to save the candidacy of Michael B. Mukasey for attorney general, with President Bush defending him in a speech and in an Oval Office interview, where he complained that Mr. Mukasey was "not being treated fairly" on Capitol Hill.
  With Mr. Mukasey’s confirmation in doubt over his refusal to state a clear legal position on a classified Central Intelligence Agency program to interrogate terrorism suspects, Mr. Bush took the unusual step of summoning a small group of reporters into the Oval Office to preview remarks he planned to make later in the day at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research organization here.
  "I believe that the questions he’s been asked are unfair," Mr. Bush said. "He’s not been read into the program — he has been asked to give opinions of a program or techniques of a program on which he's not been briefed. I will make the case — and I strongly believe this is true — that Judge Mukasey is not being treated fairly."
  I find this response absurd. To be clear, I support Michael Mukasey for Attorney General; I think he is an excellent candidate. And as I have mentioned before, I haven't studied the legal issues surrounding waterboarding closely enough to have an educated opinion about them.

  But last I checked, the Constitution creates three branches of government, each with the ability to check the powers of the others. And given the six year history of the relationship between the Bush Administration and Congress since 9/11, objecting to Mukasey on these grounds strikes me as not only absolutely fair but even healthy for the Constitution.

  Consider the context. The Bush Administration asserts that Congress has only limited powers to control the Executive through the traditional tools of legislation. As its many signing statements indicate, the Administration takes the view that it won't follow some kinds of laws that Congress passes but that Congress isn't allowed to know which laws it will or won't follow.

  This is what happened with the laws on torture. When Congress passed a law banning torture in late 2005, the President's signing statement announced vaguely that the Executive branch that must apply the law in secret would do so "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power." So what does that mean? The Executive Branch won't say.

  If you're in the Senate and you actually want to have a role in "making the law" or even just want to know how it's being interpreted — kind of a traditional view, I would think — that leaves you with limited options. One option would be to take the appropriations route and try to cut off any funding for waterboarding or similar practices. But the same President who issued the signing statement presumably would veto that. So unless you have a veto-proof 2/3 majority, that isn't likely to work.

  Your only other option is to fall back the one check that the President can't veto or interpret out of existence: Article II, Section 2's "Advice and Consent of the Senate" condition on senior Presidential appointments. If the Executive says its officers will interpret your laws only "in a manner consistent with . . . the unitary executive branch and [the] Commander in Chief" power, but won't actually tell you what that means, your one and maybe only straightforward tool for finding out what that means is refusing to confirm Presidential nominees who won't take a stand and tell you what position they will take. It's a modest tool, because there are always recess appointments. But at least it's something.

  I think it's unfortunate that Mukasey's confirmation could be blocked by this. He's not the problem, and I think he will be a very good Attorney General if confirmed. But checks and balances are a good thing, not a bad one, and the Framers designed the Constitution that way for a reason. Given that, the idea that it is somehow "unfair" for the Senate to exercise this one modest tool Bush has left the Senate to have a role in interrogation policy strikes me as absurd.

  UPDATE: Some commenters seem to have misinterpreted my post, so let me clarify. First, President Bush has every right to nominate who he wants as Attorney General. Second, President Bush has every right to make absurd arguments in support of his nominee to try to pressure Senate Democrats to confirm his nominee. My point is not about "rights," but about whether the President's argument is weak or strong. I think the argument is very weak, and that point has nothing to do with the "rights" of the President.