The Limits Of Leadership: Structural Impediments, Ctd.

Professor Sandy Levinson continues to highlight political punits who lambast the president and members of Congress for individual failures of leadership, while failing to recognize structural flaws in the design of the U.S. Constitution that are at least equally, if not more, responsible for the inability of our government to solve the pressing problems we face.

Levinson’s latest target is Washington Post columnist David Ignatius:

David Ignatius is simply the latest leading pundit who demonstrates an incapaity to connect the dots relevant to his own analysis.  In a column in the May 16 Washington Post, he says many altogether correct things.  Writing of the current scandals, he says, “What should frighten the public is not the federal government’s monstrous power but its impotence…..”  The only thing that Congress can do is engage in highly partisan “investigations” most of which simply can’t be taken seriously (such as the sudden emergence by non-libertarian Republicans as stalwart defenders of the press after earlier behaving like mad dogs with regard to “security leaks” and demanding that no stones be left unturned in efforts to catch leakers.” 

. . .

What Congress cannot do, in any serious sense, is to legislate about the problems that face us.  There are, lf course, many explanations, but surely a part of the explanation must be our 18th-century Constitution drafted by people who had literally no comprehension of what the American political process would fairly quickly become and foisted on us a byzantine system of “checks and balances” that allow well-located veto groups to make a sham of our pretense to being a “democracy” or, more seriously, to be able to confront the most serious problems that face us.  It’s so much easier for peoplel like Mr. Ignatius to complain that there’s too much bickering in Washington and that we need more “adults” who can take charge.  I see no reason to open this to comments since, as should be obvious, I’m clearly not making anything resembling a new point, but simply venting, once more, at the remarakble blinkers that even our best pundits (as Mr. Ignatius often is) seem to wear whenever they write about the dysfunctionalities plaguing the American political system.

For previous posts on this issue, click here.

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