Book review: Broken Government, comparing Obama to Bush

The Unitary Executive: In the second chapter of John Dean’s “Broken Government,” he describes the desire of the authoritarians among the Republican party to completely dismiss the existence of Congress or even of the judicial branch as generally unimportant.  Literally, to create the idea of an imperial presidency who’s exercise of power becomes without question extra-constitutional.  The sort of imperial presidency that GW was to exercise to the max during his time in office.  But of course, with disastrous results.  And that rather than Congress being a co-equal branch of government, or the U.S. Supreme Court existing to check the excesses of government on constitutional questions; both most be subservient to the all-powerful presidency.  There is in fact nothing constitutional about this particular theory. Nor is it democratic in nature.  I also fail to find anything conservative about such a political position.  In a democracy created by the U.S. Constitution; the framers of that document were indeed absolutely opposed to dictatorships in any form.  Surely conservatives would respect the wishes of the framers.  Apparently not.  And if they were “strict constructionist” when it comes to the U.S. Constitution, then a plain reading of the document would certainly argue that the creation of an imperial presidency would have no constitutional basis what so ever.  Which would argue that there is a vast difference between the authoritarians whom Dean named, and actual conservatives as a whole.  To put it bluntly, this conservative doesn’t agree with the authoritarian concept of the presidency.

I have to consider that in the light of  Dean’s research, the “Reagan Revolution,” “Reaganomics,” “Obamacare,” etc., whether described by the news media or published as letters to the editor, essentially describe the unitary executive.  That once we the voters, through the electoral college put the candidate of our choice into the White House; we haven’t simply elected a leader of the free world, we have made him the sole ruling power in the American government.  Such has the radical Authoritarian history become ingrained in media speak.  At the same time, when say the lingering cult of personality surrounding GW wishing to absolve him of any blame for the mess that Obama had inherited by 2008; then suddenly remembers the role that the U.S. Congress suddenly plays:  spending, legislation in general, etc.  But when it is a politician such as Obama not favored by his detractors, then again, the legislative branch plays no role in this nation.  In Obama’s case, we want an imperial presidency to both fear and hate and then eliminate.

On the other side of the coin, Jon Stewart who harshly criticized Obama on his own show and then visited the O’Reilly Factor to complain about Obama being nothing more than a “functionary” in government…  In light of Dean’s research, apparently Stewart himself had become too used to the idea of the imperial presidency.  When Obama did not in fact employ extra-constitutional powers or authority (to the extent that GW had); Obama had become a “disappointing functionary.”  At that point, the generally intelligent Stewart had become disappointing.  Suggesting that he (as well as the authoritarians) did not do his constitutional research.  Obama however, knows his constitutional law.  Obama therefore, regardless of his big government activism and being admittedly liberal, insisted that Congress itself should participate in activist government and send him legislation that would benefit the people in “good government” fashion.  Thus, Obama did not become a radical activist as GW was in his time.  And it seems to me that Obama does not believe in the unitary executive that GOP authoritarians invented for Republican presidents and claim to detest in Obama.  Literally, to project the failures of that theory onto the current administration.

Former Veep Dick Cheney was described in this book as a firm supporter of the imperial presidency.  Especially after Watergate and the downfall of Richard Nixon, Cheney must have really suffered PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) when Congress demonstrated that yes, actually when they see abuses of power, they can in fact say something about it.  Without question, Dean recognized abuses of power in the Nixon administration even to admissions of how egregious they were.  (Far worse than Monicagate.)  Cheney apparently, did not care to see Nixon being forced out of office.  (Although he would be part of a party that tried hard to force Clinton out of office on truly questionably legal motives.)  If a Republican president could be surrounded by this truly dubious “unitary executive” theory, then it wouldn’t matter how scandal plagued the administration might become, or what impeachable offenses such an administration commits, it can not be touched.  And with a bare majority of authoritarian GOP in both houses of Congress during much of the GW era, they weren’t about to disrupt this imperial presidency even when it was costing this nation heavily both domestically and in foreign policy.  When the Democrats assumed a bare majority control, they continued to cede an untouchable imperial presidency to GW.

Today, when you see this universal opposition by the currently minority GOP in Congress to legislation and spending bills passed by the majority Democrats, the GOP do not care to recognize an “imperial presidency” under the leadership of Obama.  And just as obviously, the same “authoritarians” who dismissed the role of Congress before, suddenly want to make use of it.  The agenda is certainly two-fold:  to embarrass Congress (especially one run by the majority party) before the public; and then to “retake it” after being part of the public embarrassment of this particular branch of government.  Quite frankly, I wonder why?

Rep. Kevin McCarthy on CNN, arguing that government isn’t listening to the people.  He should talk.  After all, the only thing his fellow GOP are listening to, is what it will take to take power back from the Democrats, not necessarily because they actually wish to do anything for the American people.  That has been true since 2008.  And his further whine (which harkens back to the GOP having lobbyist written—in the back room—passed with no debate legislation) about the Democrats and their alleged lack of “openness,” is only a deflecting of responsibility from the mess his Party made before 2006.  He does tell one truth, the GOP aren’t running to be a minority party.  But neither are they running as a people who are honest or capable of taking responsibility for past ideological errors in reasoning.

Let us just say that where authoritarians have taken over the GOP, they have a radical disconnect with their own theories, government and what GW left as a legacy (not necessarily would his successor prove to be a Republican after all); they can now “fear their theory” in the hands of the opposition.  They had no fear of it, when it was in the hands of their own party.

13 Responses to “Book review: Broken Government, comparing Obama to Bush”

  1. Chip Jones Says:

    Arch, did you receive it?

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