A presidency we can tolerate

  • 12 September 2018
  • NormanL

The Washington Post's Bob Woodward has a new book coming out on the president this week and it has official Washington in a tizzy. At last, the swampiest of swamp creatures believe, this is what will bring down the man they love (and desperately need) to hate.

The president, naturally, is not keen on Woodward's book, either. No one wants to have their inner life splashed across the political landscape. But as the Wall Street Journal's Holman Jenkins writes, the country is doing just fine by Mr. Trump, personal foibles and all:

Barack Obama spun his wheels on impotent attempts to build a legacy out of expansions of the entitlement and regulatory state in ways that don’t look like much now. But he avoided major disasters. Mr. Trump is, functionally, Mr. Obama without the ambition (putting aside his odd ideas about trade) and has been rewarded with 4% growth, which is finally delivering the kind of “hope and change” that might make a difference in the lives of Mr. Obama’s “hope and change” voters.

If this is incompetence, we can tolerate it. If his tenure leads to a downgrading of the presidency and a reassertion of Congress as the proper policy maker for the country, all the better.

We have long believed the presidency is too powerful, having long ago burst its constitutional limits. We have wondered what it might take for the imperial presidency to be put back inside its constitutional box -- if that was even possible. Perhaps Mr. Trump will deliver on that idea. If so, he will be doing the nation and the Constitution an enormous service.

We wrote about the imperial presidency back in May, 2016, and our conclusion then remains the same today:

We are often asked whether we think Candidate "X" will wreck the nation if he or she is elected to office. Our standard response is along the lines of America has survived civil war, depressions, panics, invasions, disco, and Jimmy Carter. It can survive Candidate "X."

However, the republic will not long survive if it allows the office of president to become more and more powerful.