Saturday, October 12, 2002
John Dean vs. Dick "Nixon" Cheney.
Cheney apparently wants to turn the clock back to the days of the Nixon administration, before Watergate, when Nixon sought to make Congress merely another administrative arm of the presidency.
Of course, because such a power shift would be strikingly Nixonian doesn't automatically mean it is evil. Not everything Nixon did was illegal, nor done without the public good in mind. But doing anything with Nixon as a model, or precedent, calls for the closest scrutiny, for Nixon had little respect for the mechanic of government.
Indeed, one of the reasons Nixon was attracted to foreign policy was that an American president is largely free from domestic constraints when he steps on the world stage. Nixon preferred unilateral decisionmaking, both on the domestic and international stages.
There is no question that Congress makes life difficult, sooner or later, for every president. Powerful arguments can be made that we have become what is, in essence, an administrative state, with the people selecting a new top administrator every four years. That may lead one to ask: Why not give the top administrator all the power and authority necessary so that he can most effectively administer the nation's affairs? This seems at the core of Cheney's contention.