Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Misunderstanding the concept.

So the heat is on here in Indy. Both campaigns are showing how green they are by filling mailboxes with metric tons of ads printed on the pulped carcasses of dead trees. The airwaves are jammed with promises that Barack will heal the sick and the blind, Hillary will get you a gold house and a rocket car, and both of them are promising they'll not only slash gas prices and punish rich fat cats, but they'll also get you a great-paying job and your own personal physician to live at your house and fix what ails you for free, Free, FREE!

One woman wrote in to the Indy Star to say that she was pulling for Hillary, because Hillary would fix the economy, Hillary would get jobs for Hoosiers, and Hillary really understood that It Takes A Village. What the woman thought it took a village to do, she didn't actually explain. Meanwhile, the Man from Hope and Change promises in his flyers that Indiana jobs are his number one priority.

To read and listen to all this, you'd think that we were democratically electing a Priest-King (or -Queen, as the case may be) to reign over every aspect of our daily lives. Let's turn to the instruction manual and see what it says about this godlike being's chores: Hmmm... Commander-in-Chief of armed forces... reprieves and pardons... can make treaties and appoint ambassadors & judges if the Senate (representing the individual States) signs off on them...

Wow. The section's actually pretty short, and there's damn-all in there about jobs or gas prices or the economy. As a matter of fact, if I didn't know better, it looks like the President is just supposed to be the executive of the small amount of interstate bureaucracy required in a confederation of sovereign states, and that he's supposed to be the interface of said confederation with foreign governments. Provided that the Senate (representing the individual State governments) approves of almost all interactions.

Of course, considering how few Americans have actually read the Constitution or would know where in it to look for the President's job description, it's little wonder we're in the mess we are today, looking for Priest-Kings to save us from all ills...


Anonymous said...

Lady Tam,

Very well said! You are spot on as my friends from across tha pond would say.

Dr. Joe

BobG said...

"What the woman thought it took a village to do, she didn't actually explain."

It takes a village to support an idiot.

Earl said...

Gosh, reading the rules - is that why Oprah isn't running? She has more power as who she is than as THE PRESIDENT? And if Obama would win, he could come and visit her show.

the pawnbroker said...

well, there is that supreme court thing, too (also requiring winks and nods from the gallery) so there's a bit more imperial power than you...uh, wait a damn minute!

did you say hillary will get me a rocket car? i can finally have my f'n jetson car i've been waiting for since i was ten?

hillz for prez! ;o)


JT said...

Well said! I've been tinkering with the idea of reading a couple of books I've... um... bookmarked about the inordinate amount of power the presidency has accumulated, into the one-man-can-fix-all panacea that's all the rage whether you're a Demopublican or a Republicrat. But I think they'd just make me more mad at what I already know is the case.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you love to ASK that question at a debate?

"All the candidates have firmly and writing espoused policies and ideas in direct violation of the constitutional role of the President. Please comment."

Drang said...

Back in March ovr on my own blog I said "So far, Obama is the only candidate I have heard this cycle talking about legislation 'he' will enact if elected. A senator should not need to be reminded that the president does not 'enact' legislation, all he does is ratify legislation that the Congress enacts."
They've all done it by now, of course, and may have done it before then, but up to that point I was doing a decent job of avoiding politics. Of course, the whole thing has gotten a lot more entertaining since then.

Somerled said...

Tam, they teach Constitutional Law differently at Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago, Columbia, Wellesley and the University of Arkansas, all those Ivory Towers erected by intellectuals preordained to lead us.

Before Hillary entered Wellesley Village, she was a Goldwater conservative. She was saved. Barack was saved in like manner except he was also plucked from the burning by promiment Liberation theologian, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The good Senators will join together this summmer to save us all from the greedy few.

When I heard Sen. Clinton say she would immediately replace the gas tax us poor people pay at the pump with a windfall profits tax on big oil companies, I lifted thine eyes to the hills. Thank Hillary, who can wrap the roles of the entire federal government into the Prez's job description, they also teach economics differently in all those enlightened villages.

EgregiousCharles said...

I think it may be even worse; they're going for a god-king al la Pharaoh rather than a priest-king. A preist-king would be a respresentative of some more specific god than these two confess, and channel the god's power. Instead, people seem to view Hillary or Obama as sources of power in themselves. Less as if they represent some divine entity, more as if they are divine, or one is divine and the other demonic but still supernatural.

staghounds said...

Yaweh Himself agrees:

Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
and said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.

And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them...

Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.

And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.

And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you:

He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

I Samuel 8.

staghounds said...

Yes, it's in the Bible- if you want an all powerful Government, it will- these are the words of Jehovah, speaking through Samuel:

"put your asses to work".

Anonymous said...

I know this is a little off-topic, but there is actually a matter of some relevance to Indiana voters - at least those in the 5th Congressional District. Dan Burton is up for re-election, and the other guy running for the nomination used to volunteer for a anti-gun astroturf group. I have all the skinny at my blog.

Sorry to pimp that here.

Anonymous said...

Except that these candidates are currying the favor of those who want to sit on their asses and NOT work.

And Tam, please tell me that the "priest-king" reference was from Plato, not John Norman...

Tam said...

I'd have used "philosopher-king", but didn't, and for much the same reason J.K. Rowling's American publisher didn't... ;)

Baba55 said...

Your Grand Poobah can do some damage with those "Executive Orders" doncha know? Not that anyone notices those things of course. Stealth legislation of the finest kind...

Tam said...

Y'know, I have read Article Two backwards and forwards, even lifting up the commas and periods and looking behind them, and I can't find anything about Executive Orders in there anyplace.

File that under "Things That Make You Go Hmmmm..."

NotClauswitz said...

Not just Priest-King (or Priestess-Queen) but *Magician* too (or does that make Hillary a Witch)...?

Anonymous said...

"confederation of sovereign states"

I don't think they are sovereign. They can't make treaties with foreign powers; or build armies or navies without the consent of Congress.

Of course, the Federal government isn't sovereign either, because it doesn't have unlimited power.

So, I guess only the people are sovereign. And that's why we have an Electoral College.

Anonymous said...

But which one will make the trains run on time?

Roberta X said...

Yuck, who would want runny trains? Ew.

(Word of Verification: "thurbtes," which is a train made of melty Jell-o).

Mark said...

The more I learn about it, the more it seems that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are pretty much ignored by most folks, particularly at the level of local government and higher.

I might just be paranoid, mind. Either that, or those words don't mean what I think they mean.

Johnny said...

Mr T got it right...

"I believe in the Golden Rule:
The Man with the Gold... rules."

Anonymous said...

The constitution of limited powers didn't last long. It was one of the founders who started the long, slow process of it's destruction.

- The US Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788 when New Hampshire signed off, and went into operation as the new US government on March 4, 1789.
- Just about fourteen years later, Thomas Jefferson had the Louisiana Purchase signed off on May 5, 1803.

A vast expansion of any power that "ee pleb neesta" granted to the executive. It may have been one heckova deal, but it set a precedent for executive power whose echoes have been amplified through the years, until we now have imperial presidencies.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid the grand experiment in self government is approaching its end. I am astonished at the number of people who have no idea what is in the constitution, or even scarier, what's not.

Benjamin Franklin was asked at the conclusion of the constitutional convention about the form of government that has just been created. He replied, "A republic if you can keep it."

We have failed.