mistermix, talking about Ezra Klein:
One of the relatively recent developments in the pundit-industrial complex has been to just assume and expect Congressional stalemate, and instead concentrate on the President as savior. This piece points out that the President really doesn’t have that kind of saving power, even though we spend two years of every four obsessing about who’s going to be the next one.
No, a President doesn’t have that “saving” power. And by the same logic, neither does a President have that much destructive power. A President cannot single-handedly save this country, nor can he destroy this country, nor lead it down the path to destruction, nor implement socialism/theocracy/fascism/etc.. Because, after all, it’s the same power – one partisan’s “save” is another’s “destroy” – and a President doesn’t have much of it.
But, people run for President pretending that they will have that power (and that they will only use it for good!) And lots of people want the President to have the power to come in and Do What Should Be Done – which is why they get so sad when he fails to do it. Likewise, critics imagine Presidents have the power to do all kinds of dastardly things and so they wail about how it will be the end of the country, should that guy win the election. Sure, some of that kind of criticism is hyperbole; but it’s not hard to find people who will happily (well, furiously) argue that such criticism is literally true. Go read any political blog.
Most people only remember the first line or two to that “I’m Just A Bill” song, and nobody I know remembers Three Ring Government at all. We could all use a refresher on how our government actually works, and what the limits of Presidential power really are. Maybe it’s time for some adult-oriented teaching cartoons to run between episodes of American Idol.