Sunday, April 24, 2005

Essay on Partisan Whitehouses

If you haven't already read this post from the impervious Atrios regarding the Bush Admin's litmus test against Democrat supporters in a telecom conference, go read that post and get back to me, as I don't want to have to cover that ground again. And here's the money quote of what I'm focusing on:
"We wanted people who would represent the Administration positively, and - call us nutty - it seemed like those who wanted to kick this Administration out of town last November would have some difficulty doing that," says White House spokesman Trent Duffy.

Nutty?? That's not the word I use. I use "stunning". This is simply stunning. You just can't do this stuff. It just doesn't work like that. I understand that people in the Whitehouse have always tried to use the powers of the Whitehouse in order to further their political agenda. That's just natural. And many of them have succeeded at that.

Partisan Abuses

President Clinton certainly wasn't adverse to using the office's perks to score a few partisan points. And Nixon clearly believed that it was an explicit right of the President to spy on his direct political opponents for no other reason than to gain pure political advantage. He believed the Presidents before him had done such things to him, and he had every right to do it to his opponents. And maybe he was right. We assume that he wasn't, but is it any better if Johnson and Kennedy really had used the CIA to bug Nixon; as Nixon believed. And if Nixon were right, and that he really was following established precedent, is that any reason to not impeach Nixon?

Of course not. That's even worse. That's why he had to be stopped. Not because he was doing something wrong, but because the Presidential powers had been expanded, either by Nixon or his predecessors, in a dangerous, unconstitutional way. We weren't taking down a President. We were removing a drunk from behind the wheel before he could cause more damage. And if Nixon wasn't the first drunk, we still needed to make him the last. And the only way left to do that was impeachment. The Presidential abuses had gone too far, and only the most drastic option was likely to have stopped it.

Marriage of Policy to Politics

And certainly it is often difficult to determine where the political stops and where the policy begins. After all, policy goals are impossible to achieve if political concerns aren't dealt with properly. Clinton was usually a popular President and he had popular initiatives and goals. Yet the Republicans were often able to thwart his policy goals due to political attacks against him. And these are the exact charges that Republicans make towards Democrats; that the Democrats are using partisan politics in order to thwart the Will of the People, represented in total by President Bush. Charges that get far too much coverage in our chattering media elite.

But that cannot excuse the Bush Administration's current wrong-doing. In fact, it only makes it worse. Past Presidencies were always cautious about appearing to use the powers of the Whitehouse for political gain. It was always seen as corrupt and outrageous, and rightly so. The Whitehouse does not belong to a political party or the individual holding the position. It belongs to the American People, and it is solely designed to fill their needs.

President For Hire

In a point I made earlier this month, the President is merely an employee of The People. Much the same way that stockholders hire employees to fill the job of President, CEO, etc. But the officers of a company are not necessarily its owners and are always forbidden from putting their own personal interests. Certainly that does happen, but at the heart of almost all of our recent corporate scandals involve corporate officers abusing the powers of their job in order to benefit themselves personally. And that's because the employees are only supposed to represent the will of the stockholders, and not themselves. Even a majority owner or partner in a small company is not allowed to plunder a company, or use the company to promote or benefit a separate entity owned by that owner.

And the similarity is obvious. The President is not allowed to use his job as a means of helping his personal goals, including politically. He's there to do the job that we hired him for, not to muck-around trying to further spread the Republican dominance in Washington. Once the campaign is over, governments are supposed to go back to work, and function as if politics didn't exist.

But in this quote, we hear Whitehouse Spokesman Duff outright stating that this is his intent. That things have gotten so partisan, that they bluntly state that partisanship is their reason. This is outrageous. At least the Enron and Worldcom guys had the self-decency to lie about it; claiming they had always been acting properly, always in the stockholder's best interest. They were lying, of course. But at least they knew they were supposed to lie. But the Whitehouse has clearly been in Wonderland for so long that even the Mad Hatter is making sense to them. I'm sure that'll be the nomination following Bolton's.

Sorry about this, but I'm going to have to fuck off the rest of this post. I'm leaving town on a business trip, and won't be back for a few days. And if I don't send this now, I'll never finish it and it will go unposted forever. But I think you can get the general gist of where I was going on this one, so you can just fill in the blanks yourself. Maybe I'll get around to finish this soon, or maybe not. This was pretty much writes itself, so I might not bother.

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