Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shibboleths?

The comments on this blog have recently picked up in both quantity and quality of expression. Here's a quote from Phil W:
I believe you are vastly underestimating the power of the presidency. By stating that the power is limited to veto power and supreme court nominations, you ignore (1) how great veto power is (if McCain were elected, you can expect that none of the legislative agenda you are supporting would get passed), (2) the real power of the court system (the perspective of R judges and D judges is, quite different, having sweepeing implications over every aspect of our society from civil liberties to environmental protection--and most of these decisions are made at the Disctrict Court level with only one person deciding the case) and (3) the power of appointment over every other branch of government (for instance, the Bush Dept. of Interior sued a cattle ranch becasue the ranch was testing all of its cattle for mad cow. DOI argued that this was unfair to the comptition and won (probably in front of R appointees)--).

Temperment and competence are really shiboliths that candidates with unpopular policies use to sway people to vote agaisnt their interest.


I think his analysis of the power of the presidency is spot on. I don't accept the shibboleth claim however (though I dearly love the word). Temperament, in my opinion, has everything to do with how a person will attack problems, how he will view and react to divergent points of view, where he will go for advice when pressed for solutions. Look at Bush, look at Cheney, their disdain for the Constitution seems to me based in part on an an almost messianic complex. They know better than the rest of us; they will save us from ourselves, and they will do it largely without our consent or even knowledge.
Having said that, I would concede that temperament is a tricky thing to judge.
K

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