Questioning the Presidency

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The national security state and imperial executive were not created by Bush, but Washington and Hamilton. That’s one point made in this interesting article at the Atlantic, “The Founders’ Great Mistake”:

[A]s Bush leaves the White House, it’s worth asking why he was able to behave so badly for so long without being stopped by the Constitution’s famous “checks and balances.” Some of the problems with the Bush administration, in fact, have their source not in Bush’s leadership style but in the constitutional design of the presidency. Unless these problems are fixed, it will only be a matter of time before another hot-rodder gets hold of the keys and damages the country further.

There’s a lot to disagree with in the piece, as it concerns specific presidents FDR, Lincoln, and others, as well as some of the suggested reform proposals. But redoing Article II is a radical notion and I’m glad it’s being discussed in some mainstream rags. Specifically, I am glad to see the basic point that the presidency is too powerful, “a behemoth, with control over law enforcement, the military, economic policy, education, the environment, and most other aspects of national life,” and that perhaps it should be broken into two offices or rethought completely. Thanks to Wendy Honett for the link.

9:33 pm on January 29, 2009