National Security Political Philosophy Politics The Opinionsphere

The Disparity Between the President’s Foreign and Domestic Powers

Matt Yglesias makes an extremely important and fundamental observation regarding our system of government:

If the President wants to do something like implement a domestic policy proposal he campaigned on—charge polluters for global warming emissions, for example—he faces a lot of hurdles. He needs majority support on a House committee or three. He also needs majority support on a Senate committee or three. Then he needs to get a majority in the full House of Representatives. And then he needs to de facto needs a 60 percent supermajority in the Senate. And then it’s all subject to judicial review.

But if Scooter Libby obstructs justice, the president has an un-reviewable, un-checkable power to offer him a pardon or clemency. If Bill Clinton wants to bomb Serbia, then Serbia gets bombed. If George W Bush wants to hold people in secret prisons and torture them, then tortured they shall be. And if Barack Obama wants to issue a kill order on someone or other, then the order goes out. And if Congress actually wants to remove a president from office, it faces extremely high barriers to doing so.

Whether or not you approve of this sort of executive power in the security domain, it’s a bit of a weird mismatch.

3 replies on “The Disparity Between the President’s Foreign and Domestic Powers”

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It’s a matter of naiotnal character than social system. In other words, Sweden would do just as well or even better if it ditched social-democracy for libertarian capitalism. Sweden succeeded as much as it has because its people have Germanic roots, with values and qualities such as orderliness, tidiness, discipline, work ethic, efficiency, thoroughneess, etc. Though a good number of Swedes have become lazier over the decades due to social programs, their roots go deep into the Lutheran past. In the modern era, Swedes became free and liberated, but they were able to use their freedom constructively because their core naiotnal character was shaped during long centuries of spiritual sobriety, social hierarchy, and communal cooperation. Coal that is packed hardest burns longest. Steel that is beaten most is hardest. Notice that Singapore is social-fascist(mildly)-capitalist whereas Hong Kong is free-wheeling libertarian capitalist, but both are equally successful. Why? Because they are both run by the talented Chinese. Notice that both liberal and conservative Jews succeed at equal level whereas many ‘liberal’ blacks and many conservative ‘white trash’ fall behind. Of course, some ideologies like communism is worthless no matter whom it serves(or oppresses); even so, some groups did better with communism than others. East German and Czech communism was more successful than Bulgarian or Albanian communism. And, Jews did much better under Soviet communism than other ethnic groups–despite all the stuff about the EQUALITY of man. So, the question, “suppose there were 300,000,000 Swedes in America” is a good one–though perhaps unwitting on the part of the writer. Sweden’s success owes less to political ideology than to the people and their ‘national character’. Likewise, libertarianism has worked well for many Dutch people, but that doesn’t mean it will work well in Peru or Zimbabwe. Indeed, it hasn’t worked well with certain immigrant groups. For many Germanic peoples, ‘socialism’ means both working hard & paying into the system AND benefitting from the system. For less advanced peoples, socialism just means getting something for nothing. Also, a homogeneous society is more likely to be communaly conscientious. Rich Swedes want to help poorer Swedes, and poorer Swedes are grateful to the richer Swedes. But, rich whites are less likely to want their hard earned wealth leeched by non-whites, and non-whites are likely to feel less gratitude and simply demand more and more. Social Democracy with Germanic people will work better than capitalism with Africans. Capitalism with Germanic people will work better than social democracy with Africans. One of the reasons why kibbutz worked better than most forms of socialism is that Jews know how to work well and hard. Why is it that leftist anti-capitalist Jews in the US make more money–and are better at business–than ‘white trash’ conservatives who are always yelling ‘free market’!!!???

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