Baffled, not baffled
20 August 2007, 10:33 PM
I find myself startled (all over again) by how badly our political system is dealing with Our Only President. The magnificent genius of our system is that it expects that sometimes a bad man will get elected, to some office or other, and there are several layers of what we learned to call “checks and balances”, but which are more accurately simply checks (in the hockey sense), and which could be better taught as protections or baffles.
First of all, within the Executive itself, there ought to be several people who see it in their own interest to baffle a bad President. This has often happened, most recently (I think) when Ronald Reagan’s administration took over the onerous task of governing from his increasingly feeble shoulders. In part, they may do so out of patriotism and whatnot, but largely, the system encourages those men to guard their reputations closely, and to draw their skirts aside from the tar leaking from a bad barrel. This administration seems to be populated nearly entirely with people who have no political ambitions beyond 2008. They will move very happily to private business, lobbying, organized crime, prison or all four, and strangely enough, their association with lies, fascism and corruption probably won’t hurt them in their careers.
I’ll say it again—people who work for this administration have willingly associated themselves with lies, fascism and corruption, and have every reason to believe that they will profit by it. No points for James Madison.
Second, there’s the Legislature, which is presumed to have not only ambitious people unaligned with the President’s faction, who will attempt to baffle even a good President as far as their constituents will let them, but ambitious people of the President’s faction, who because they are ambitious, will, like their putative brethren in the Executive, draw their skirts aside from etcetera etcetera etcetera. When the President is (a) bad and (2) unpopular, and furthermore is unpopular because of the failures, ambitious people make political hay by baffling them. Except, for some reason, they haven’t. And I’m not sure why. It’s true, to some extent, that few people have constituents who are demanding that their representatives act as a baffle to the President, but—why not? I mean, is it possible that the chunk of voters who think I dislike our President because of all the failures, but I certainly don’t want my Congressman or Senator to interfere with him in any way is large enough to court? Furthermore, there have been actual observable instances of legislators losing their jobs because they failed to act as a baffle. Not many, no, but surely enough to give people pause, yes?
Because the third group to act as a baffle to the President is the American People, making their voices heard in the legislatures, and in public houses and libraries and street corners. No, they can’t actually change Presidential policy, but they can bring an enormous amount of influence to bear on the people who should be acting as baffles and are not. True, it takes a while between elections, but the representatives should be reacting faster than that, if they want to keep on the good side of the voters.
The last group within the system is the Judiciary, which has done some actual baffling over the last six years, but less and less as time has passed, and which has certainly not stopped the worst of it, nor can the Judiciary be expected to hold the door shut by itself. Don’t get me wrong, here—I’m aware that the Judiciary has been pretty bad, has allowed a lot of bad things to happen and actively participated in others. They have, however, at the same time, stood up to Our Only President more directly, clearly and effectively than any other group, when they have done it at all.
So, what’s going on? Why is the system failing? Or is it working, but very slowly, so that we can’t see it yet? The thing that startled me, by the way, was the bizarre matter of revising FISA, where the Democratic-led legislature essentially allowed an unpopular President to bully them into making very bad law. I am furious, of course, as are many of us within the Party. I’d even say most of us within the Party think it’s a bad law, although some are more furious than others. If the system were working properly, that would potentially have consequences for the Party leadership. But that’s one thing—even outside our Party, the new provisions do not have massive popular support. Why were Republican legislators willing to tie themselves so closely to Our Only President and his unpopular and failed cabal of crooks and incompetents to win passage of a lousy bill without popular support? Why were the crooks and incompetents themselves pushing for this bill? What the hell is going on?
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,