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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/8155/what-the-presidency-failed/

What? The presidency failed?

May 29, 2008 by

I’m enjoying watching the suffering of the White House in light of the Scott McClellan book as much as the next guy.

And yet somehow I think we’ve been through this before. In fact, it seems to happen with every presidency. The spokesman for the president or some top employee serves him faithfully for years, through all the lies, the bad policy, the calamity of power, the corruption, the arrogance, and the abuse. Then he bails out and writes a tell-all book and everyone is shocked, shocked that such things could go on in the White House.

Why must we go through this every time for a hundred years? It is a bit absurd because somehow the broader lesson is never learned. We take away from these experiences the lesson that Bush is bad or that Clinton is bad or that Bush senior was no good or that Reagan wasn’t really cutting budgets or that Carter felt out of control or that Ford was clueless or that Nixon was a abusive or that Johnson was really corrupt or that the JFK image thing was a joke and on and on.

Maybe it is time to rethink that whole institution? That is what we do in regular life. I’m a bread baker but if every last time I made bread it came out like a stone and tasted awful, people might begin to suggest that I try some other hobby. So it is with the presidency as we imagine it today. It is unviable. How many times must we re-learn this lesson before something changes?


Jim May 29, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Well, you start something, but fail to finish. What system would you propose? How would you insure checks and balances within the government? What would become of the presidency? Just some food for thought.

Oxnard May 29, 2008 at 1:22 pm

Re-learn? That implies we learned something at one time. The American sheeple never learn anything, and the governemnt knows exactly what it’s doing. What we need is real investigative reporting – in real time.

Gregory May 29, 2008 at 1:49 pm

I saw a bit of CNN’s flustered but utterly ecstatic coverage of this news yesterday, and all I could think about was how very absurd the whole parade was, and how very characteristic of the ever-failing press and the evermore-totalitarian state. I mean, CNN “analysts” and “correspondents” didn’t know exactly how to respond to the apparently novel notion that they’d been lied to, and Ari Fleischer didn’t know exactly how to respond to the reporters’ confusion and excitement at learning that the Bush administration may have been twisting the truth and coercing members of the administration to disseminate such falsities. And then I remember that CNN’s making millions of dollars broadcasting their own confusion, and McClellan is making probably about a million dollars bringing down the Bush administration. If there’s such monetary incentive to undermine the state, I wonder, why isn’t it done more often?

Brent May 29, 2008 at 1:52 pm


Real investigative reporting would help, but only if we assume people have the analytical skills to recognize concepts and patterns from an investigative report and are then able and apt to apply those patterns and concepts to other situations…. no small assumption.

Dennis May 29, 2008 at 2:29 pm

Let us not forget FDR, whose lies and duplicity led the U.S. into WW II, which in terms of deaths and inflation adjusted monetary cost, was by far this country’s biggest catastrophe in the 20th century. Despite this, FDR is considered one of our greatest presidents by the vast majority of the political spectrum.

fundamentalist May 29, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Why assume that people like McClellan are telling the truth? Kiss and tell stories like his are a cottage industry, a sure way to quick riches.

Bruce Koerber May 29, 2008 at 10:30 pm

What is the strategy, do you think?

If lies are everywhere and it appears that everyone is lying then what is left as a criterion? How convenient would that be for the politicians who are poised with lies about to be told? There is then no credibility left to evaluate the lies being told!

Voila!, Mission accomplished by those who have uprooted the Constitutional Republic!

As far as the media and their coverage is concerned, to act as the fool being fooled is worth all the bells and whistles that come from being the court jester!

Ben O'C May 29, 2008 at 11:11 pm

“I’m enjoying watching the suffering of the White House in light of the Scott McClellan book as much as the next guy.”

I personally did not enjoy getting reminded about past sufferings. Personally I wish we lived in an ideal world where there would be no book that you call tell all, which told us these things. In addition the book is by no means tell all. I mean I think we new all this stuff before.

Kyle F May 30, 2008 at 1:33 am

Ah, Scott’s version of The Book of Revelation. I’ll pass on this one and stick to Myriam Cyr’s ‘Letters of a Portuguese Nun’ – encompassing passion and betrayal.

TokyoTom May 30, 2008 at 9:29 am

Roger, who’s “assum[ing] that people like McClellan are telling the truth?” Perhaps you haven’t noticed that McClellan has made few new revelations, and that no one is contesting the substance of what he has to say; rather even his targets are simply questioning his loyalty or his failure to come public sooner with his complaints.

Jeffrey, isn’t the “failure” of the Presidency much more about the failure of the Congress, judiciary, press and American people to check the President (and of the growth of the federal government as parasitic institution that the President is best positioned to direct for the benefit of corporate elites) as is is about any failures of that office?


fundamentalist May 30, 2008 at 10:56 am

TokyoTom: “no one is contesting the substance of what he has to say”

It seems that the other members of the White House staff are contesting them. Why should we take Mclellan’s word over theirs? Mclellan has motive to lie–big bucks. The White House staff has motive to lie–keeping their jobs.

Walt D. May 30, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Jeff Tucker
Lets consider Hurricane Katrina
Since you don’t believe that it is the job of the Federal Government to be the first line of support for the hurricane victims, why blame Bush? Blame him for setting up another bloated bureaucracy in the form of Homeland Security. Blame him for expecting that it would work. However, don’t blame him because of untimely aid to the Katrina victims. What do you expect him to do – land Air Force One in New Orleans for a photo-op and close down the airport for half a day?
So now Congress want to have another hearing about the Valerie Plame non-leak and non-crime.
All this book does is to fuel the fire of disfunctional government

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