Arianna Huffington is zeroing in on the crucial issue – the consquences of the Bush powergrab for years after the administration leaves office. Who among the current candidates, once elected, will have the courage or the understanding to give some of that power up. Once upon a time George Washington was offered the highest office for life — a Crown if he wanted it. He said no. Who today is capable of saying no to sweeping powers of the executive once they begin to feel the draw of that power January 20, 2008? Anyone?
Looking back over the last year, it’s one of the most important issues America faced. Looking ahead, it could turn out to be the “sleeper issue” of the 2008 presidential race.
I’m talking about executive power, the way it is used — and has been abused over the last 7 years.
In a very revealing piece in the Boston Globe, Charlie Savage lays out the results of a questionnaire the Globe sent to the presidential candidates on the limits of executive power, asking their views on the Bush administration’s expansive view of presidential authority.
It’s hard to overstate how vital this issue is, or how far off the media radar screen it remains. Indeed, it’s hard to think of another issue in which the importance-to-the-public/attention-paid-by-the-media ratio is as out of whack.
It’s easy to imagine the next president saying: Sure, Bush used his increased prerogatives to do damage but, trust me, I’ll use them to do good.
And for a 150-page primer on the current threats to our rapidly-vanishing open society check out Naomi Wolf’s July 2007 book: The End of America: Letter’s of Warning to a Young Patriot. Not a cheery read — though Wolf does attempt to remain optimistic, and never attempts to seduce by overstating her case. It’s a disturbing work, but perhaps being disturbed is preferable to the increasing anxiety and feelings of helplessness that come of not admitting to myself what is really going on in this country.