Wednesday, May 15, 2013

David Ignatius can't connect the dots, either

Sandy Levinson

David Ignatius is simply the latest leading pundit who demonstrates an incapaity to connect the dots relevant to his own analysis.  In a column in the May 16 Washington Post, he says many altogether correct things.  Writing of the current scandals, he says, "What should frighten the public is not the federal government’s monstrous power but its impotence....."  The only thing that Congress can do is engage in highly partisan "investigations" most of which simply can't be taken seriously (such as the sudden emergence by non-libertarian Republicans as stalwart defenders of the press after earlier behaving like mad dogs with regard to "security leaks" and demanding that no stones be left unturned in efforts to catch leakers."  No doubt there is some criminal stupidity worth investigating vis-a-vis the IRS, but equally worth investigating, of course, iw the ability of big money to game the IRS system by corrupting our political system and getting tax exemption for doing it.  No doubt the response of the cowed IRS will be shutting down any serious investigation of 501(c)4) groups at all, so that the American taxpayer can in effect subsdizaie our own further descent into plutocracy. 

What Congress cannot do, in any serious sense, is to legislate about the problems that face us.  There are, lf course, many explanations, but surely a part of the explanation must be our 18th-century Constitution drafted by people who had literally no comprehension of what the American political process would fairly quickly become and foisted on us a byzantine system of "checks and balances" that allow well-located veto groups to make a sham of our pretense to being a "democracy" or, more seriously, to be able to confront the most serious problems that face us.  It's so much easier for peoplel like Mr. Ignatius to complain that there's too much bickering in Washington and that we need more "adults" who can take charge.  I see no reason to open this to comments since, as should be obvious, I'm clearly not making anything resembling a new point, but simply venting, once more, at the remarakble blinkers that even our best pundits (as Mr. Ignatius often is) seem to wear whenever they write about the dysfunctionalities plaguing the American political system.

UPDATE:  The lead story in today's NYTimes is "An Onset of Woes Raises Questions on Obama Vision," by Peter Baker.  Its theme is his inabilty to "master his own presidency," though there is one glimpse of recognition that he may be  confronted "by partisanship and forces beyhond his control."  It never occurs to Mr. Baker (or, for that matter, any of the NYTimes' political reporters) that one of those "forces" is the Constitution itself.  And President Obama, as a well-trained Harvard lawyer, was, one suspects, never asked to question any of the structural features of the Constitution even as he got probably the best legal education available on how to analyze cases decided by the United States Supreme Court.  I've compared myself on earlier occasions to Paul Revere or Cassandra.  Perhaps a better comparison is Noah--don't you see the rainclouds accumulating?--but, alas, I can't build an ark because the problems facing us have to confronted collectively--rugged individualism is useless, unless you're a bitter-end survivalist who looks forward to nuts and berries--or not at all.  A truly cogent "vision" would be altogether too scary, so better to pretend that the failings are Presidential detachment or Republican perfidy (both of which may well be part of the problem, to be sure) instead of anything more basic.