Historian Stanley Kutler is best known for his role with the Nixon Presidency and Nixon’s infamous tapes. But in a recent column, the Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, nails the Obama Presidency.
|By: fflambeau Friday March 5, 2010 6:14 pm|
|By: letsgetitdone Monday October 5, 2009 9:44 pm|
As I see it, the answer to these problems of imbalance in our institutions is not to weaken the Executive. In fact, I think we need a strong Executive to cope with the rapid changes the United States is experiencing today. However, I also think that the key to these problems is to strengthen the Congress as a collective institution, but to weaken individual Congresspersons and Senators relative to the party leaders in each House and to the institution as a whole. To do that, in turn, I think we have to get rid of the seniority system in both Houses and the filibuster institution in the Senate.
If we did these two things, the leaders in both Houses would be much stronger and more effective. If no filibusters were possible, majority rule could be restored to the Senate, and inordinate delays in passing legislation would no longer be possible. If committee chairmanships were no longer determined by seniority, but through selection by the leaders of the majority party in each House, the committee chairs would be accountable to the leaders. If the leaders, in turn, were accountable to the party caucuses, then we would have strong party and leader rule in both Houses. The parties, in turn, would be accountable to their stated party platforms, which would finally mean something after elections. Of course, in a situation like this, party discipline could also be enforced in the Congress as it is in the British system, and the majority party would have no problem passing positive legislation that it favored.
|By: letsgetitdone Monday October 5, 2009 8:45 am|
Coming back to the question of whether we are expecting too much from this President, I think we are expecting from him only that he will work hard, and with some success, to achieve the outcomes he promised. In many cases, we think he has abandoned those outcomes, for fear of antagonizing various corporate interests. In fact, we see him as so far representing their well-being and not ours; as being a Wall Street President like Hoover, and not a Main Street President like FDR, Truman, or even Lyndon Johnson.
We don’t like that. We also don’t like his attempts to marginalize us. To call those of us who insist on a good public option as “the left of the left,” and to say that those of us, like myself, who are Medicare for All people are just impractical idealists, or to say that those economists, some of the finest in the world, who earlier wanted a strong enough stimulus to bring us back from the recession are “impractical,” even though they were right, and he was obviously (long-term unemployment of 10% now being forecast) way off base. Put simply, we feel betrayed, and increasingly bitter and mistrustful of this Administration. It has a long way to go to regain our trust, if that’s even possible.