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Thursday, December 12, 2013

David Brooks, "Strengthen the Presidency": Non Sequitur

David Brooks has been writing some "peculiar" op-eds since returning from "book leave."

First, there was his horror of an opinion piece entitled "The Irony of Despair" (see:, in which he quoted "our friend Nietzsche" while advocating against suicide . Today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Strengthen the Presidency" (, Brooks goes one step further and would have us believe that notwithstanding the Obamacare disaster, the executive branch of American government deserves more power. Brooks begins:

"We’re in a period of reform stagnation. It’s possible that years will go by without the passage of a major piece of legislation. Meanwhile, Washington nearly strangles on a gnat, like this week’s teeny budget compromise."

In response to this stagnation, Brooks contends:

"This is a good moment to advocate greater executive branch power because we’ve just seen a monumental example of executive branch incompetence: the botched Obamacare rollout. It’s important to advocate greater executive branch power in a chastened mood. It’s not that the executive branch is trustworthy; it’s just that we’re better off when the presidency is strong than we are when the rentier groups are strong, or when Congress, which is now completely captured by the rentier groups, is strong."

Brooks concludes by acknowledging that America requires a "a president who can both rally a majority, and execute a policy process," i.e. not Obama, but how in the name of heaven, given the disasters wrought upon the United States by the Obama administration, can Brooks call for more executive branch absolutism?

As observed today by Charles Krauthammer in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama the oblivious" (

"Barack Obama is not just late to discover the most elementary workings of government. With alarming regularity, he professes obliviousness to the workings of his own government. He claims, for example, to have known nothing about the IRS targeting scandal, the AP phone records scandal, the NSA tapping of Angela Merkel. And had not a clue that the centerpiece of his signature legislative achievement — the online Obamacare exchange, three years in the making — would fail catastrophically upon launch. Or that Obamacare would cause millions of Americans to lose their private health plans.

. . . .

The paradox of this presidency is that this most passive bystander president is at the same time the most ideologically ambitious in decades. The sweep and scope of his health-care legislation alone are unprecedented. He’s spent billions of tax money attempting to create, by fiat and ex nihilo, a new green economy. His (failed) cap-and-trade bill would have given him regulatory control of the energy economy. He wants universal preschool and has just announced his unwavering commitment to slaying the dragon of economic inequality, which, like the poor, has always been with us."

Yes, Obama has demonstrated the extreme pitfalls of executive fiat.

Give more power to the presidency even to someone other than Obama? Consider whether Hillary, who has no accomplishments whatsoever to her name other than frequent flyer miles, would run things any better or differently than Barack. I don't think so.

There is the the old saying, "If it's not broken, don't fix it." Well, Washington is broken, but sometimes when you try to fix something, you only compound the problem.


  1. Many are still waiting for the editorial board of the NYT to urge the President to do more to secure the release of three Americans still being held in Iran under atrocious conditions. Unfortunately, it seems like Obama and the State Department missed a golden opportunity to get Pastor Saeed Abedini, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and ex-FBI Agent Bob Levinson released from Iranian prisons as a prerequisite to any negotiations regarding nuclear enrichment. Levinson, a father of seven, has now been held hostage for over six and a half years - the longest period of time for an American surpassing that of Terry Anderson. The story which was 'leaked' by AP yesterday linking Levinson to the CIA certainly won't help matters.

  2. Why should Obama care about Americans? Particularly about Americans in Iran, the country of smiling politicians who insist that Iran is the best country in world in terms of protection of human rights.
    Our President cares about everyone in the world equally. Didn't he say so. Didn't he (or Ayers) write so? Didn't his other people, including the NYT say so?
    He cares about all the billions equally. Don't bother him, our internationalist, with petty concerns for some Americans. Don't distract him from his speeches about his concerns about the world.