Journalist Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe just won a Pulitzer Prize for national-affairs reporting. In an April 2006 article, he detailed how often President Bush has used “signing statements” to assert the right to bypass provisions of new laws; Savage’s article prompted Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) to call for hearings investigating the matter. Instead of vetoing bills, Savage reported, Bush has quietly used “signing statements” — official documents in which a president lays out his legal interpretation of a bill to be followed when implementing a new law. Other presidents have also used this power, but Bush has used it far more than his predecessors: 750 times, as of the date of Savage’s article. In his signing statements, Bush has asserted the right to ignore numerous sections of bills having to do with torture, domestic spying, affirmative action, “whistle-blower” protections and immigration problems. Legal scholars say that Bush’s assertions “represent a concerted effort to expand his powers at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government.
Lawrence Wright, staff writer for The New Yorker, yesterday won a Pulitzer Prize in the general-nonfiction category for The Looming Tower: Al-Qaida and the Road to 9/11. The book is based on more than 500 interviews, some with friends and relatives of Osama bin Laden; it examines the circumstances that led to the formation of al-Qaida.
Yesterday the Pulitzer for music was awarded to the 77-year-old jazz saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman, for his live album Sound Grammar. It was cited for its “elastic and bracing” music. When Coleman came along in the 1950s, his detractors said his rough and wayward jazz was too crazy to stand the test of time. The Pulitzer is the most recent proof of how wrong they were. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead had this review last year when the CD was released.