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June 16, 2010


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This entry made me think back to an episode of Bill Moyers Journal that I saw during the election campaign that I highly recommend watching or reading the transcript:

It has really made me ponder just what we expect of our leaders.I think that I read your blog because it often makes me think about the same things. Anyway, keep it up! Cheers!

Here's the pertinent quote from the transcript found linked on the page above:

BILL MOYERS: I was in the White House, back in the early 60s, and I've been a White House watcher ever since. And I have never come across a more distilled essence of the evolution of the presidency than in just one paragraph in your book.

You say, "Beginning with the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960, "the occupant of the White House has become a combination of demigod, father figure and, inevitably, the betrayer of inflated hopes. Pope. Pop star. Scold. Scapegoat. Crisis manager. Commander in Chief. Agenda settler. Moral philosopher. Interpreter of the nation's charisma. Object of veneration. And the butt of jokes. All rolled into one." I would say you nailed the modern presidency.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, and the - I think the troubling part is, because of this preoccupation with, fascination with, the presidency, the President has become what we have instead of genuine politics. Instead of genuine democracy.

We look to the President, to the next President. You know, we know that the current President's a failure and a disappoint - we look to the next President to fix things. And, of course, as long as we have this expectation that the next President is going to fix things then, of course, that lifts all responsibility from me to fix things.

One of the real problems with the imperial presidency, I think, is that it has hollowed out our politics. And, in many respects, has made our democracy a false one. We're going through the motions of a democratic political system. But the fabric of democracy, I think, really has worn very thin.

Will M

Well, ish. Isn't this meant to be the Chief of Staff's job? And given Rahm's 'not managed to stop press speculation' about his departure date, maybe Obama should hurry him along?

Ian Leslie

Kristen thanks so much for your comments, and the great quote.

Will: it's not the CoS's job to oversee projects like that. Generally - as I understand it - the job is more about managing the president's priorities and the flow of what comes in rather than ensuring the president's directives are enacted on the ground.

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