© 2008 Gene Healy
Every four years, men and women with permanently-fixed smiles assure us that they will end corruption in Washington, get the economy moving, and end our trouble overseas, if only we will elect them President. The claims are bold – who could budge the vast federal bureaucracy or find a solution to the hornet’s nest that is the middle east? Yet a third of the American public seems willing to believe these and greater claims, from across the political spectrum. Throughout the 20th century, the presidency has taken on great challenges, willfully or at the urging of the public, and gathered around itself the power to take on those challenges -- or try to. In The Cult of the Presidency, David Healy argues that not only this is a significant departure from the Constitutionally-sanctioned purpose of the president, but such centralization constitutes a malignant force. Not only is investing such power and hope in one man dangerous, but the breadth of ambitious and responsibilities we heap upon the president's shoulders is self-defeating.
The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government, F.H. Buckley. Argues that an over-responsible president or prime minister is a problem not only for the United States, but for the United Kingdom and Canada as well. I read this last July and will read it again this year in hopes of giving it a proper review. Cult of the Presidency was read last January and again last July.