Streetwise Professor

January 10, 2013

Congress is Bad. Presidentialism a la Obama is Far Worse

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 6:47 pm

This poll finds that cockroaches, head lice, and Ghengis Khan are held in higher esteem than Congress.

Hahaha.  Very droll.

Look. I hold Congress in very low esteem myself.  But here’s the thing.  This poll, and others like it, will be used to discredit and undermine any Congressional opposition to what the One Musketeer wants.  (The One Musketeer being Obama, of course: The One for the One, and All for the One.)

Obama has made it clear that on any issue ranging from guns to the debt ceiling he is willing to use extraordinary executive measures to achieve what he wants.  To do so, he must circumvent Congressional opposition, notably Republican opposition in the House.  The most effective way to circumvent is to discredit, and the most effective way to discredit is to ridicule.

Congress, alas, provides much fuel for ridicule.  But given the choice between unfettered presidentialism that can do something, and a clown Congress that can’t do anything, I much prefer the latter.

There is a lot of evidence (and theory) showing that presidentialism leads to bad outcomes, in the spheres of economics and civil liberty.  As buffoonish as Congress can be, an ineffectual legislature is much less a danger to our lives, liberty, property, and prosperity than a highly effectual executive.  To paraphrase Eugene McCarthy, the only thing that saves us from government is its inefficiency. Give me an inefficient Congress over a ruthless, determined, and effectual executive any day.

The Founders knew this.  (Cf. the Federalist Papers.)  We have forgotten their wisdom.

Embracing presidentialism in haste, and because of our disdain for Congress, is a mistake.  A major mistake.  Embrace presidentialism in haste, repent at leisure.

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  1. …and mayorism al a Bloomberg is at the very bottom where the solids settle out.

    Put his guy on the Obamacare death committee and it will solve the problems with Social Security in a New York minute.

    Comment by pahoben — January 11, 2013 @ 11:56 am

  2. @pahopen. Being mayor of NY is just Bloomberg’s finger exercises. Practicing for the bigger stage.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 11, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

  3. Presidential-ism has been around and growing since FDR – That was what the NRA and NIR Act were all about. It is ironic that Alan Cranston mused during Watergate that maybe the all-powerful presidential government those nasty reactionaries were warning about in the Thirties was a real threat.


    We now have a President who has ordered American citizens killed without any form of due process, among other minor peccadillos.

    Re Bloomsmell – he is just indulging his “I have made a lot of money, so I know better than you do.” instincts. He did this a Merrill, did it in his own shop and now had NYC to bully. Larger things? If he can, but I doubt it. It is the process (and the fillings of superiority that come along with it) that he loves. Unless delusion springs up more than possible, I don’t see him going into an area where he has a good chance of being clobbered in an election.

    Comment by Sotos — January 11, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

  4. @sotos. I totally agree re growing since FDR. But Obama is putting the concept on a HGH and steroids regimen. I also agree that Bloomberg’s ambitions are crazily unrealistic. But his ambitions exist.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 11, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

  5. Presidentialism is a disaster – Obama is at 108 Executive Orders, he has 183 left to make to catch up with Bush, and a long ways to catch up with Clinton and even longer with Reagan.

    Comment by paul — January 11, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

  6. There seems to be an unspoken consensus that his ambitions are limited to the US presidency and that is reassuring. He has that unstable combination of height and ego that can lead to excess and that concerned me.

    Comment by pahoben — January 12, 2013 @ 10:34 am

  7. I hope to hell Ted Cruz has been a Saint his entire life and at no time said something stupid in an unguarded moment nor anything that could be taken out of context to besmirch his character.

    Comment by pahoben — January 12, 2013 @ 10:59 am

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