The Imperial Presidency

Politics Abounds Today. Up at 4Am this morning thanks to the switch back to standard time but also to the oh so many files to edit and jpg. I shot over 1400 files in three days last week. (betcha you can't do that with 4x5 and polaroid.)

While I work I listen to Bill Moyers, by far my favorite journalist on the planet. Take a moment and dial in to a recent conversation with Andrew J Bacevich. Bacevich is a historian and former US Army Colonel. He is able to succinctly and soberly talk about the American way of life - our economic crisis. Our militarism and how we got to the place where as a citizenry we are not at all responsible for ourselves or our government's actions.

Here's a sample of the interview:

BILL MOYERS: I was in the White House, back in the early 60s, and I've been a White House watcher ever since. And I have never come across a more distilled essence of the evolution of the presidency than in just one paragraph in your book.

You say, "Beginning with the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960, "the occupant of the White House has become a combination of demigod, father figure and, inevitably, the betrayer of inflated hopes. Pope. Pop star. Scold. Scapegoat. Crisis manager. Commander in Chief. Agenda settler. Moral philosopher. Interpreter of the nation's charisma. Object of veneration. And the butt of jokes. All rolled into one." I would say you nailed the modern presidency.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, and the - I think the troubling part is, because of this preoccupation with, fascination with, the presidency, the President has become what we have instead of genuine politics. Instead of genuine democracy.

We look to the President, to the next President. You know, we know that the current President's a failure and a disappoint - we look to the next President to fix things. And, of course, as long as we have this expectation that the next President is going to fix things then, of course, that lifts all responsibility from me to fix things.

One of the real problems with the imperial presidency, I think, is that it has hollowed out our politics. And, in many respects, has made our democracy a false one. We're going through the motions of a democratic political system. But the fabric of democracy, I think, really has worn very thin.

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