Thursday, June 20, 2019


     It's interesting that I'm reluctant to write about the book I'm currently reading, Max Boot's The Corrosion Of Conservatism, about his disillusionment with the GOP under Mr. Trump's Presidency.

     I don't agree with many -- possibly even most -- of Mr. Boot's opinions, though I'm no fan of Mr. Trump; as an East Coast policy wonk, Max Boot seems to have no idea of how harshly Secretary Clinton was viewed here in the Rust Belt.

     The true disconnect in American politics these days is that the skills needed to win a Presidential election are not well-related to the skills needed to be President.  This may be a reflection of the extra baggage the office has taken on or found itself stuck with.  Congress was supposed to do the heavy lifting on policy and law, while the Executive branch was supposed to, well, execute the day-to-day effort of making it run.  Presidents were our guy to shake hands with kings and talk sense and strategy with generals -- after Congress had declared war.

     The slow accretion of excessive power to the Executive seems to be an inherent problem with republics and we can only hope that in our republic, it carries its own cure.  The trend in recent decades to stick incumbent Presidents with an uncooperative and sometimes hostile Congress does bid well for things to get worked out -- or break wide open.

     Here I am, four paragraphs in, and yes, I'm still tapdancing around Mr. Trump.  Max Boot thinks he's a dire and terrible danger.  I think he's a graceless clod, who combines many of the worst characteristics of Jackson and Buchanan; but in the end he is, like all Presidents, a temporary hire.  It's a short-term job, four years with an option of four more, and then you go write your memoirs, do charitable work and fade away.

     I just wish I had more confidence that either of the big parties learned anything about candidate selection from the 2016 election.  Instead they've focused on rah-rah rallies better suited to Constantinople in 532 AD, 1917 Russia -- or Rome in 1922.  You want a Jefferson or a Coolidge in the White House?  That's not how you get them.


Blackwing1 said...

Well, the Rep-wing of the DemoPublican party (RepubliCrats? UniParty?) had a very small window of opportunity during the primary in which to nominate someone who actually understood the Constitutional limitations of the power of the office. Instead, naturally, they vomited forth our current president to oppose the more-socialist wing of the party.

The voters were then presented with a choice at the election between a bloviating sales-twit and Felonia VonPantsuit. Both of them statist, authoritarian collectivists with only slightly differing tastes in how to end up destroying a country. Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.

We knew Trump was faking shutting down the swamp when he failed to promulgate an executive order right after inauguration to cease enforcement of the PPACA and to request legislation to turn health insurance first back to the status quo ante, and then to deregulate it so that there could be competition for health insurance across state lines. For some reason, everybody's talking about the "wall" and nobody wants to admit that he's reneged on the major promise that got him elected.

The one good thing about having an "R" in office as opposed to a "D" is that every single inconsequential action he takes is scrutinized under a microscope by the infotainment industry (things of actual consequence not so much). Since everything he does becomes an outrage, they can sell their advertising time at a premium. Put a "D" in office and it doesn't matter how corrupt they are, nothing gets $500 million just vanishing into crony's pockets with Solyndra.

Ah, the Dem-wing and the Rep-wing...the two wings of the vulture tearing apart the country. I have NO idea how we could get back to electing statesmen instead of sales-critters. Repealing the 17th Amendment would be a good start at the Senate level, since it significantly altered the balance of power between the states and the federal government. But expecting power-hungry politicians to limit their own power simply isn't going to happen.

RandyGC said...

The extra baggage you speak of (the abdication of powers to the Executive branch by Congress for mostly self-serving reasons) means that the Presidency is more attractive to people that want to use that power "for the good of the people".

I.E. exactly the people we shouldn't let anywhere near that much power.

I've longed maintained that the fact someone wants to be President should disqualify them from office.

How to pursue that theory in a way compatible with a Constitutional Republic, I don't know.

JPD said...

For the most part I agree. In this case, I will take a "graceless clod" over the worthless, empty suits for the last 20 years. With all his faults, Trump has racked up some worthwhile accomplishments. The businesses I work with daily are hiring, training, and paying good wages. In many cases, struggling to find more workers. That alone is a win for me.

Overload in Colorado said...

There's an old comedy/ history special by Robert Wuhl called, "Assume the Position". In it there's a piece that posits that "bad Presidents are as American as apple pie".