Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Rule of Law or The Power of The President?

Noted conservative professor at harvard Univercity Harvey C. Mansfield, wrote an Op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled The Case for the Strong Executive, which lays the foundation for modern mainstream conservatism. The article was an honest account of the theory behind the Bush presidency and the larger conservative movement.

The Nixon Doctrine. "When the president does it that means that it is not illegal."

Glenn Greenwald at salon.com summarized Mansfield's article: [R]eading Mansfield has real value for understanding the dominant right-wing movement in this country. Because he is an academic, and a quite intelligent one, he makes intellectually honest arguments, by which I mean that he does not disguise what he thinks in politically palatable slogans, but instead really describes the actual premises on which political beliefs are based.

And that is Mansfield's value; he is a clear and honest embodiment of what the Bush movement is. In particular, he makes crystal clear that the so-called devotion to a "strong executive" by the Bush administration and the movement which supports it is nothing more than a belief that the Leader has the power to disregard, violate, and remain above the rule of law. And that is clear because Mansfied explicitly says that. And that is not just Mansfield's idiosyncratic belief. He is simply stating -- honestly and clearly -- the necessary premises of the model of the Omnipotent Presidency which has taken root under the Bush presidency.


Could you imagine the furor that would occur, if this was written by Hugo Chavez?
RENEGADE EYE

17 comments:

Graeme said...

A leading conservative puts out a manifesto and the "liberal" media is talking about the Washington sex list or John Kerry's haircut- amazing.

(btw, that piece is scary as hell)

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I still get sad when I think about how much the American people will tolerate, how distracted they are by the trappings of modern life while so much is stolen from them.

Puppeteer said...

One word: BIAS

troutsky said...

You don't have to read far to encounter the first glaring contradictory nonsense.About the US constitution "It's flexibility keeps it in it's original form and spirit a 'living constitution', ready for change, and open to new necessities and opportunities. The 'living constitution' of the Progressives actually makes it a prisoner of ongoing events and percieved trends."

In other words, he praises the maleable nature of it when it is used to conform to his purposes, but decries the exact same property when Progressives apply it.This is a leading Harvard scholar. Frightening but indicative of the general conservative intellectual poverty.

It does bring up an interesting point: Is the constitution still functional? Should true democrats defend it or work to change it?

Renegade Eye said...

The next president will be a Democrat. I doubt if there will ever again be a GOP president. I doubt if the party will exist in five years. When conservatives adapt this policy, don't they realize a Hillary or Obama will not abolish such a doctrine.

The US needs benevolent despotism?

sonia said...

Could you imagine the furor that would occur, if this was written by Hugo Chavez?

Chavez has done far worse things and there is no furor against him, none whatsoever among the leftists and very little on the right.

So far, it's the Venezuelans who are escaping to the United States. Not a single American is escaping Bush's 'dictatorship' by seeking refuge in Venezuela...

Lynn said...

Mansfield made his mark on translating Machiavelli’s Prince, Discourses on Livy, and Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. I’ve seen him on C-Span and he does provide a useful service, for he does not mince words. He states baldly that he would like to see the ultimate and utopian totalitarian state as embodied in Plato’s Republic, a fact that eludes some lovely friends.

Facts, however, often elude some people since they have an ill-defined ideological axe they insist upon grinding. To which I reply: know your ideology and only then enjoy it.

Larry Gambone said...

Chavez has indeed done "far worse things". He has helped the poor and the working class, a terrible, terrible sin. He has even empowered them through community councils and works councils, worst sin of all. A real democrat would crush the unions, throw the poor in the street, reduce their wages, torture and shoot them when they protest. We must ALWAYS be on the side of greed, corruption, power and authority. One must only work to help the poor starving billionaires, anything else is socialism, which is ALWAYS unworkable and which equals Stalinism, anyway. ALL POWER TO THE CAPITALIST CLASS. LONG LIVE THE COUNTER-REVOLUTION! DEATH TO THE WORKERS!

Larry Gambone said...

I understand that Mike Ruppert fled Gringo totalitarianism for Venezuela - He was afraid he might be "suicided". Anyway, a lot of progressive Yanks and war resistors have fled to Canada - no need to go to Venezuela - and we are glad to have them...

Nadia A. said...

Sadly, I fear that too many progressive Yanks and war resistors have fled to Canada. We desperatly need them back here.

sonia said...

many progressive Yanks and war resistors have fled to Canada

Curiously, after they 'fled', Canadians elected a Conservative government that gutted the Kyoto agreement, send troops to Afghanistan and broke Michael Moore's heart...

And more curiously, both Canada and the US have a volunteer army, so there is no real need for 'war resistors' to 'flee', except from their own stupidity...

Larry Gambone said...

Yes Canada has a govt of Bush-sucking, traitors. But they only got in by a fluke with 38% of the vote and are a minority govt.Many Yanks come to Canada fearing the wave of fascism that has enveloped the US and we Canucks welcome them. We also welcome and aid Iraq War resistors - soldiers who have "deserted".

CB said...

Ren,

Respectufully, the article was not about the theory behind the Bush presidency, but of a uniquely American formulation of the executive.

Greenwald completely mischarachterizes the tension Mansfield identifies in the principle of the "energy" of government. Being violative of the rule of law, Locke argued, is at times a necessary executive excersize because of the law's universality, which means it is imperfect.

Mansfield also saw that what Machiavelli might describe as tyrany, Aristotle might describe as discretionary virtue. How individuals view it depends on whether or not they are generally supportive of the regime in power.

Mansfield also notes that prior to the American Constitution, republics failed because of a subordinate executive. They either lacked energy because of their subordination or they took it by force because there seemed to be no better option. In either case they failed.

Two common charges, not surprisingly levied at the last two term Republican presidencies, by Democrats is that they are/were contemptuous of the people and that they are/were imperial.

In the current debate about Iraq, Congress, controlled by Democrats, has the unimpeachable authority to stop the funding of the Iraq action. They would rather use that power for political benefit than its true excersize. This shows you that while they are partisan, they are not foolish enough to pull the plug, if not for the realities on the ground, for their political viability going forward. They know American voters won't hold them harmless for thier recklessness.

Mansfield brings it home with regard to so called American imperialism, in that he correctly notes that this would be the first empire to actively seek an exit strategy! It is a foolish leap by opponents of the action borne out of disagreement with the excersize of executive energy - in other words the tension and debate is just as the founders envisioned.

CB said...

trout,

The liberal notion of "living, breathing" is distinct from what Mansfield describes. The liberal notion is what you suggest, changing it to conform to some backward notion of collective ideology - hurray to France, by the way for rejecting that foolishness. Support for socialism doesn't survive long term experience with it.

What Mansfield is talking about when he suggests Constitutional flexibility is the tension between the legislature and the executive that gets played out in extra-legal and extra-constitutional forms by the energy of the executive.

The election for executive is so important because the people understand that it is the president who resolves matters that reside in the grey. It is not unchecked though, Congress has the ability to exert considerable authority over the president.

Ren,

No Republican presidents? Wishful thinking?

Renegade Eye said...

CB: This is not excusing the Dems. Bush did so much damage to the party, because of his short term alliances with Evangelicals, the GOP is in trouble forever.

I doubt that Bush/Gonzalez have the interpretation of Mansfield's concept, that you are using. It is more than for resolving unclear issues. Unlike the liberals, I believe the Dems also believe in executive authority when convenient.

Tooo bad that in France, the left had no candidate.

sonia said...

Ren,

in France, the left had no candidate

Actually, they had - Jean Marie Le Pen. His supporters are mostly former Communists who have discovered the joys of racism.

French Communism + Racism = Le Pen

This year, Le Pen got 10%, and the two Communist candidates (Besancenot and Buffet) - 6%. In 1981, Communist Marchais got 16%. You do the math...

CB said...

Larry,

I wouldn't go that far. After all, if we killed all the workers, I wouldn't have anyone to do my lawn, I wouldn't have anyone on whose back I could earn my capitalist pig profits and no one on whose neck I could step. Have you no decency?