The View From 1776
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Farming It Out
President Obama’s tenure has been characterized to an unprecedented degree by his failure to take personal responsibility for crafting major policy decisions.
From the stimulus bill, to cap-and-trade, to National Socialist healthcare, the president has just tossed out an idea and watched to see where it would land, leaving it so far to Congress to fight it out over the all-important details that can cause economic and foreign policy disasters.
Now he is confronted with one of the most consequential decisions of his administration: what to do with the war in Afghanistan. It appears that he will simply poll everybody who has an interest in the decision - including the Taliban - and just take an average of opinion polls.
Do we need a president at all, if that is to be his modus operandi? Obama’s passing the buck amounts to doing as Ross Perot proposed in 1988: giving every citizen computer access and calling for a vote of the entire electorate on every issue.
There is, of course, much to be said for curbing what Arthur Schlesinger called The Imperial Presidency, the concentration of too much power in the presidency, at the expense of balancing power in Congress. Indeed, our history has featured periodic tugs of war between the two.
But what President Obama has done so far, which is little beyond making speeches, amounts to abdication of duty.