Category Archives: Executive Power

Cult of the Presidency

Gene Healy, a former colleague, is back from a blogging hiatus.

He has a new book coming out, The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Presidential Power. The gist of it is that a lot of people think of the President as some kind of national savior and spiritual protector. Think an amalgam of Superman, Jesus Christ, and Santa Claus. Gene thinks those expectations are bit much. He sees a more modest role for the executive branch.

Looks like a good book. It’s certainly timely. All three remaining candidates share grandiose, outsized conceptions of the Presidency.

More than Left and Right

As it has done with presidents of both parties, the Cato Institute has just released a study critical of the president’s consitutional record – Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W. Bush (23pp plus footnotes).

Now, as a libertarian who frequents Capitol Hill, a lot of republicans I talk to are skeptical of me because they think I’m liberal, and a lot of liberals won’t talk to me at all because they think I’m conservative. When a libertarian organization publishes something that breaks those conceptions, it’s pretty fun to watch, as Radley Balko points out. Since this new study is critical of a Republican administration, our progressive friends who think libertarians are Republicans are confused, even though they understand and largely agree with the study.

The Daily Kos, probably the biggest and best of the so-called “Angry Left” blogs, posted an excellent summary of the study. The comments are the fun part for me, though. It’s interesting to watch readers’ minds explore the idea that there are political persuasions besides hard left and hard right. A few astute commenters noted that it is possible to hold liberal positions on some issues (anti-war, pro-gay marriage, pro-immigration), conservative opinions on others (lower spending and lower taxes), and be philosophically consistent. In other words, what I call classical liberalism, and what most people call libertarianism.

Hat tip to Radley Balko for bringing the thread to my attention.