News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Crisis as Time for Renewal

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Crisis as Time for Renewal

Many are concerned about the constitutional crisis that any impeachment effort might start. Since that's not even under discussion in a censure, many still seems to see that a censure will undermine Bush's legitimacy.

The premise to this argument is that public statements that attack the President's office make him a weaker leader. When troops are in the field, having a weak leader is supposed to be obciously mean that s/he can't lead those troops effectively. ...

I suggest that a more basic assumption accepted by these thinkers is that the US govt is like a body. The President forms the head of this body. If you addle the head, the body will suffer.

Zbigniew Brzezinski encapsulated this view concisely:

Neither President Truman nor Eisenhower – Democrat and Republican – ever spoke of America being a “nation at war” during the Korean War. Neither President Johnson nor Nixon ever spoke of America being a “nation at war” during the Vietnam War. Yes we have a serious challenge from the potential threat of terrorism and we have to wage an unrelenting struggle against it. But to describe America repeatedly as a nation at war – implicitly of course with a commander and chief in charge – is to contribute to a view of the world by America that stimulates fear and isolates us from others. Other nations have suffered more from terrorism than America. None of them has embraced that definition of reality.
It's very difficult dealing with this imagery of govt as body. The notion of a centralized authority exhibits strong socio-cultural assumptions, not to mention logical haziness.

I do not think that Feingold's censure attacks this image--but there's enough anxiety produced by it that it is seen as an attack on that image. Insiders of both camps--having bought into the image--therefore characterize censure as "irresponsible."

How could it not be irresponsible, this way of thinking goes, since it (seemingly) so blithely attacks common-sense, eg, that you don't undermine the head's legitimacy in times of danger? If you did that, then you'd have chaos.

Of course, such imagery enables room for lots of self-interest. That is, not only is censure an attack on the President's authority, it also threatens self-interest of those insiders who see themselves as head of their Parties.

Let me just say that I do not accept this imagery. Finding an alternative, however, within the confines of a system that sees that the everyday citizen signs over his responsibilities to representatives who carry out his/her will is difficult.

Of course, re-imagining how a modern representative govt might look calls for reflection and considerable care. Some will say that a crisis is not that time. I suggest that crisis is always the right time to begin looking at options, possibilities, and realities. Censure at least puts some of these questions on the table.

No comments: