Tuesday, May 22, 2007

There Is No 2007

[posted by Callimachus]

Future historians will judge that we simply had 24 months of the election year 2008. Like the ancient Romans during one of their periodic calendar corrections.

I surrender to the inevitable. Let's talk politics. "Obama probably isn't a hawk; he just wants to make sure no one mistakes him for a dove." How does he do that? By threatening Iran. If the Democrats are going to run (for office) away from Iraq, yet with an awareness that they risk being seen as the party of pushovers in a mean, mean world, the temptation is going to be to rattle sabres toward some other targets of opportunity on the map.

Not a good way to make policy. It's rather Bush-like, in fact. Which is what ought to give people on the right pause about the Bush-Rove-Cheney White House: Once they've done it, anyone can do it. I'm talking about the arrogation of presidential powers and the trend toward complete politicization of decision-making. This has developed slowly over time in American history -- since Lincoln, really, though by fits and starts. The skids for all this were greased in the 1930s-60s, by presidents bypassing sclerotic Supreme Court justices and mossback Congressmen to liberalize, progressive-ize, and desegregate America. It was a way to speed up the good things. And it was applauded and advocated by the best editorial writers in the liberal media.

Bush just took it to the next level, and used it to push rightward, but the door had been unlocked long ago. And he did it meanly, under guise of a Big War he really wasn't willing to fight like a Big War.

So what does the next president do, presuming he or she will be a Democrat? Make a deliberate effort to move away from that big fat dessert table of executive branch power? Hire only the best people for the jobs rather than trying to seed the future with ideological pod people armed with government experience? Step down from partisan trifling and pet cause promotion in the name of balanced government and non- or bipartisanship?

I'd vote for that. But the netroots would be after him with the tar barrel and the feather bag. And I don't see any way in the current political climate to unscrew the pooch.