Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Hillary Problem

In a lot of ways, she is probably the right candidate to get my vote. I don't like the dynastic tendency, however. This would be four in a row from two families; at least the Adamses, Harrisons, and Roosevelts had the decency to spread it over several generations.

But the main objection I have is, I am willing to see her as president, but not after George W. Bush. He has been one of those presidents who pumped up executive branch powers and authority till it literally tore through its clothes like the Hulk. He did it for particular reasons and used it to particular ends, but right now the federal government is very top-heavy and very strong.

Hillary would not give back an ounce of that, no matter what she says. She, too, has the authoritarian tendency and not only is she comfortable with power, she would be looking to augment it.

We've had presidents like Bush before, who so extended the executive reach they alarmed even their own partisans. Jackson, Polk (the first 20th century president and still not appreciated), Lincoln, Wilson. And we've followed them with weak or hemmed-in men who had to let go of much of that overreach. Call it God's blessing on us or the wisdom of crowds or sheer blind luck.

After Jackson, Van Buren, crafty but not potent, and whittled down by the titans in Congress; after Polk a series of feckless one-termers; after Lincoln, Andy Johnson and Grant who frittered; after Wilson, a series of non-entities; after the dynamic Roosevelt, the weak, sick, old Roosevelt, then Truman, who had to learn it all from scratch. After Nixon, Ford.

Two in a row might be more than we could stand.