Our dubious Constitution (continued)
bobsheridan at earthlink.net
Fri Mar 17 11:15:02 PST 2006
Sanford Levinson wrote:
"I know there are problems with the following analogies, but I'd like to
be told exactly why they don't work."
Okay, here goes:
There's a difference between a corporation, or a baseball team, or a
treating physician, or an airline, and the presidency of the U.S.
All of the former are under the much more immediately available control
of their respective boards, employers, shareholders, etc., and can be
readily hauled into court for rules violations.
It is much more difficult and disruptive to the country to impeach or
otherwise replace a president.
This is probably why Gore backed down, not to mention Tilden, and the
country went on with its business despite the violation of what some
thought was the democratic principle. We had one bad civil war and
we'll take the most difficult of presidents to another.
The 2nd term of the Clinton presidency was distracted and neutered by
his impeachment over nonsense.
Whatever one thinks of the constitutionally questionable and much more
important actions (than Clinton's) taken by Pres. Bush in the name of
national security following 9-11, there does not seem to be an
overwhelming impetus on the part of the public to overturn the applecart
to correct them, or him.
Nixon was driven out of office by Woodward and Bernstein plus Congress
and the threat of impeachment, but by the time he pulled the plug, we
were ready to see him go and it was no surprise. We got Ford, who
Can you imagine Bush giving us Cheney? It's one thing to debate these
interesting matters academically in the abstract, but, taking the
question seriously, politics on the ground is not something to be
Do you see a lot of energy behind a movement to rein in the president?
Sen. Russell Feingold doesn't seem to be getting a lot of support for
his toothless censure bill. Sen. Liberman, called a DINO ("Democrat in
Name Only"), is agin it.
> I know there are problems with the following analogies, but I'd like
> to be told exactly why they don't work. They arise in the course of
> trying to figure out what so many people I respect believe that it's
> better to have a constitution that requires keeping an incompetent
> president in office for another two or three years rather than one
> that risks the political instability attached to a no-confidence
> procedure that would bounce him from office. So the analogies are these:
> 1) You are on the board of a corporation and the CEO has a propensity
> for making disastrous decisions (e.g., deciding that merging AOL and
> Time-Warner would be a great idea). Do you say, "Well, let's give
> him another couple of y ears. After all, it's only the investor's
> money...., Or "maybe he'll do better next time; after all, a stopped
> clock is right twice a day."
> 2) You are the general manager of a baseball team, which has lost a
> number of games because of clearly questionable decisions by the
> manager (e.g., leaving a clearly tired pitcher in the game when the
> heart of the batting order is coming up, remember Grady Little). Do
> you say, "Well, perhaps he'll learn"?
> 3) You are about to undergo open-heart surgery and are told that your
> surgeon or anesthesiologist has a significantly higher error-rate than
> others who are available to you. Do you say, "Well, most of us his
> patients survive"?
> 4) You are deciding what airline to fly. One of them has a
> significantly higher delay rate, in addition to a markedly lower rate
> of maintenance on its planes that has seemingly accounted for several
> crashes over the past year. Do you say, "Well, the ticket is $5
> Are we so casual about keeping incompetent Chief Executives in office
> because, at the end of the day, we really don't think it's all that
> important who is president (which seems counter-intuitive) or because
> we are really fearful of the consequences of making it easier to
> bounce him from office (because we may, after all, be bouncing
> Lincoln). But isn't this a little bit like investing the family
> fortune in lottery tickets because, after all, you might hit it big
> and win a billion dollars? It's still a stupd thing to do even if you
> in fact hit the jackpot. That makes you lucky, not smart.
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