Lost Appetite for Divided Government
The clich? which routinely masquerades as wisdom in the world of punditry is that America needs "divided government" (i.e. Democrat Congress / Republican Executive, or Republican Congress / Democrat Executive) in order to prevent excessive concentration of power in any one political entity.
Not surprisingly, this revelation lay dormant among The Wise
until the 1996 Presidential campaign, when the possibility presented itself of simultaneous Republican control of both Houses of Congress and The White House. More importantly, the "Divided Government" idea proceeds from a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitutional separation of powers, which divides the legislative, judicial and executive powers among branches
of government, not
between political parties.
As the House-Senate Conference Committee debate over Intelligence Reform legislation has demonstrated, the Legislative branch with it's regional accountability, has distinct interests and leverage that balance the interests of the Executive branch as well as the exigencies of Party Unity. So, even though Republicans currently control both Houses of Congress and
the Presidency, the brilliant Constitutional balance is working as a hedge against important legislation passing with critical flaws.
Remarkably, the purveyors of conventional wisdom who, pre-November 2nd, were proclaiming the glories of "Divided Government" have spent the past three or four weeks in a Chicken Little-panic because governmental power is not concentrated enough
When Republican Members of Congress oppose a Republican President on matters dear to Liberal hearts, they are hailed as "Mavericks" (as in, "Maverick Pennsylvania Senator, Arlen Specter, has vowed to stand up to Mr. Bush's attempts to pack the Federal Courts with misogynistic, snake-handling, racist, Bible-thumpers."), but when Republican lawmakers James Sensenbrenner and Duncan Hunter put the brakes on the Intelligence Reform Bill, because of their concerns that provisions of the Bill might compromise military combat operations, the pundit community did not confer "Maverick" status on the dissenters.
Instead Hunter and Sensenbrenner have been impugned, misrepresented and vilified in the corridors of elite opinion, while yesterday's acolytes of "Divided Government" have railed on President Bush for failing to adequately twist the arms of GOP legislators.
Ironically, the loudest proponents of "Divided Government" have suddenly lost their taste for opposition between the Executive and the Legislature. It strains one's credulity to grant that such changeable appetites spring from sincere convictions.
Posted by larry_naselli
at 7:46 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, December 8, 2004 12:19 PM CST