Wednesday, February 20, 2008

American Idol Presidency

Sinking fast

The news is getting pretty grim for the Clinton gang as more and more Democratic voters have become captivated by the charms of the smooth and suave senator from Illinois. Many of us in the Peanut Gallery are watching this drama unfold in a state of joyful glee as Mr. Obama methodically chips away at the ever diminishing possibility that the political couple from Hell will ever get a chance to return to Washington, DC for a dreaded second act.

It is all starting to play out like a well choreographed episode of American Idol where the out of nowhere long shot crooner from inner-city Chicago is beating the stuffing out of the well coached and expensively coiffed professional from Noo Yawk.

That this makes for gripping television there is no doubt but it may not necessarily be a good thing for the country in the long run. Actually perceiving and supporting a president by using the same criteria employed to judge the talents of a celebrity is not only a big mistake but is probably dangerous to our health. Writer Anthony Gregory hits the nail on the head with an article published Monday which amplifies this point quite well (here is an excerpt):

Obama promises lots more spending but he is an interesting case. He actually terrifies me precisely because I find him rather likeable. When a radical libertarian finds something to like in a statist of this caliber, you know we are dealing with a dangerous politician.

His appeal is somewhat understandable. Of course, much of Obama’s program is anathema, but on crucial issues like war and civil liberties, he sounds much less crazed than Bush, McCain or Hillary. Listen to the conciliatory way he puts things. He sounds much less offensive to many basic old liberal principles than the others.

Then it hits me. He’s not saying anything at all, really, except what everyone wants to hear. He is a masterful politician and represents what most Americans want out of their president – someone they can be proud of and feel good about, someone to shape their warm and fuzzy view of what it means to be American. This view varies somewhat, depending on the group, from the center left/progressive coalition that backs Obama to the neocon/theocon/Wall Street Bush coalition. But it is clear that most all Americans want a president they can respect.

I don’t. I don’t want Americans to get their faith back in the presidency. It is a horrible institution and the more the people give it blind trust based on the personality they see, the more awesome its power and abuses. In the 1970s, the presidency was gloriously disrespected and thus relatively impotent. Reagan brought faith back into the presidency, at least for the right and center. Clinton later did the same for the left and center. Their administrations were quite detrimental for American liberty.

Modern politicians get votes not mostly on their policies but rather on how they make people feel about America. When Americans favor the president more, they also tend to think more highly of the presidency. They want more from their government, and are less bothered when it commits great wrongs. It has been populist solidarity with the state that has created the democratic leviathan of the 20th century, with all its power to bomb, usurp and torture. Vast American pride in the presidency is what has allowed it to become the nation's master and such a menace to the world.

Americans shouldn’t look to the president for their self-respect, patriotism and cultural identity. The presidency in its current form is entirely too powerful and thus an inherently corrupting and inhumanely destructive thing. The presidency as it supposedly should be, under the Constitution, is a relatively humble office overseeing the executive branch, one of three composing a radically restrained government with very limited enumerated powers. Today, the presidency overshadows the other branches, the states, and all Constitutional and statutory limits on its power. In any event, why should 300 million people, and to a great extent the rest of the world, have to live under one all-powerful law enforcement official? The whole idea seems like some kind of insanity. How did this become the American way? If we are to restore our freedom, we need our compatriots to snap out of this trance. The silver lining in the Bush administration has been the disgust he has elicited so universally, especially among the left and center. This has constrained his actions somewhat. I am not looking forward to the many Americans turned off by the obvious horrors of the Bush administration once again respecting and trusting the president.

Short of a mass campaign against the omnipotent presidency itself, which Ron Paul’s has come closest to representing in modern electoral history, no presidential bid is going to excite me much. I prefer the president kill far fewer people and loot the country less. I prefer fewer peaceful prisoners to more. But we will all lose out on peace, freedom and wealth so long as Americans love and celebrate the presidency, looking to it as savior, moral guardian for the nation, stabilizer of the economy, provider of goods and necessities, protector against evil and liberator of the world. Indeed, given the choice between an Obama, Hillary or McCain who might breathe new life into the presidency and restore the respect and awe it once elicited; or, on the other hand, the stale, despised and pathetic George W. Bush, I am more than tempted to say: Four More Years!

He's not impressed.

In conclusion we all need to be a lot more like Simon and much less like Paula. Our continuing and dogged skepticism of these pretenders to a clearly un-Constitutional throne will be our enduring strength and salvation.


Audie said...

I have switched my plan for voting on March 4th, from 'for Paul' to 'against Hilary.'

Devastatin' Dave said...

Good stuff from The Onion...

cleavis said...

Clearly, the most cynical view yet. Also full of twisted logic. A president is rendered impotent only by an insurgent congress or judiciary. As we have neither, the rational voter must choose the most rational president.

This kind of half-baked pseudo libertarianism is pretty thin.


beamis said...

The Constitution rendered the presidency to be a relatively impotent office when the government was originally set up but that is hardly a constraint on the unchecked power that is routinely conferred on the holder of the office these days.

A rational candidate would hopefully say that there is too much power vested in this office (and the government in general) and would vow to roll things back to what was originally intended by the founding fathers. There is only one such candidate in this election and his name is Ron Paul.

All the rest of them have no plans to reduce the role of the Executive but, judging from their speechifying, intend to do even more when they gain office. Our rights and liberties shrink as the unaccountable power of the Executive grows.

It reminds me of an observation made by H.L. Mencken in 1920: "Under the pressure of fanaticism, and with the mob complacently applauding the show, democratic law tends more and more to be grounded upon the maxim that every citizen is, by nature, a traitor, a libertine, and a scoundrel. In order to dissuade him from his evil-doing the police power is extended until it surpasses anything ever heard of in the oriental monarchies of antiquity."

Hey people let's all support Ron Paul and the secession of your home state. There is light at the end of this current nightmare and it is coming sooner than any of us can imagine.

cleavis said...

OK I have to make a confession here....I have NEVER seen American Idol. Not even once.

Now, a tit for tat... Let's take the entire constitutional bit as given. We all know that today's republic ain't got nuthin' to do with the old one. The only evidence I ever need is the third amendment. Perhaps the most effective bit of the bill of rights as no one has to run to the supremes to bitch about the definition of "quartering."

The only reason the Fed became ascendant over the states was because folks in one part of the country couldn't stand folks in another part of the country acting like turds. Type A people tend to get the power, pass the laws, raise the army of the republic. That is just the way the world is.

So Ron Paul starts preaching constitutionalism and states rights and reasonable people think it sounds soooooo good - Right up until they realize they live in a state where as soon as the state legislators get turned loose they are going to outlaw sodomy again, require you to present a crucifix at the polling place and chain pregnant 16 year olds to a gurney to protect "fetal rights".

Let's face it, at this stage of the game the ONLY protection your civil rights have is the inefficiency and inattention of a bloated, paralytic and syphilitic fed. God help us if the corn-nut-chompin-knuckleheads at the State House ever get any real power.

"anybody who thinks small government is answer has never had to deal with an HOA."


Family is good Beamis. Got a second critter in the oven, gonna be here in a few weeks.

the haunted hiker said...

"Abortion on demand is the ultimate State tyranny; the State simply declares that certain classes of human beings are not persons, and therefore not entitled to the protection of the law. The State protects the "right" of some people to kill others, just as the courts protected the "property rights" of slave masters in their slaves. Moreover, by this method the State achieves a goal common to all totalitarian regimes: it sets us against each other, so that our energies are spent in the struggle between State-created classes, rather than in freeing all individuals from the State. Unlike Nazi Germany, which forcibly sent millions to the gas chambers (as well as forcing abortion and sterilization upon many more), the new regime has enlisted the assistance of millions of people to act as its agents in carrying out a program of mass murder."

Congressman Ron Paul. 1981

Ron Paul is smart, but it doesn't mean he's not crazy.

beamis said...

And your point is?

cleavis said...

I think the point is that R. Paul is like Lyndon LaRouche.....only nuttier.

beamis said...

He's nuttier than Hillary, W. or Dick Cheney?

You strain credulity my friend. When is someone a nut for simply wanting to return to a strict interpretation of the Constitution? For wanting to end the unjust and bloody occupations of foreign lands? Obama and McCain scare me far more than the kind doctor from Texas.

Lyndon LaRouche he is not. A ten term Congressman from middle American he is.

I hope you were being facetious.

Devastatin' Dave said...


That passage from Paul is his personal stance. He has said, time and again, that, regardless of his personal stance, the issue is one for the states to decide. This is consistent with his constitutional/republican bent. Is it now considered crazy that a politician that swears an oath to uphold the Constitution actually abides by that oath?


C'mon. Really? You want to argue that a bloated, centralized government is a better deal for me than multiple, smaller political districts? The Feds have a huge standing army to back them up. By your rationale, a planetary government would be a freedom loving utopia for me. Doubt it. And why do you think that states would necessarily become more oppressive towards their citizens than the Feds? Even if some of them did, there would be 40 odd other states that wouldn't. I would guess that the majority of the population would gravitate towards the freedom-loving states.

Also, your comparison of smaller governments and HOAs is off because HOAs are voluntary in that you don't have to buy a property that has one. As of yet, we can't opt out of political associations without dire consequences.

Frank said...

Beamis, you have a lot more faith than I that Americans want a revolution and a return to classical liberalism. Our republic is now a democracy, and individual rights have fallen to group rights. I don't see a return anytime soon.

Although I support Ron Paul, his anemic support (less than 10% nationally?) shows that Americans are unwilling to be weaned from the government teat.

Many Americans have not even a basic understanding of the Constitution or its guarantees of civil liberties. Case in point: The middle school where I teach has made it a rule that students must stand for the Pledge of Allegiance; the "discipline" committee, and most faculty, were completely unaware that the rule is unconstitutional, and I'm left fighting an uphill battle.

Finally, please remember that Clinton was the only modern president to reduce the deficit and balance the budget. The dollar was much stronger in the '90s. He was one of the best fiscal conservative presidents of the 20th century.

However, I'll be writing in Ron Paul in the general election, not to "throw my vote away", but to send a message that some still care about the Constitution and limited government.