When James Madison and friends put together the Constitution, one of the key things they endeavoured to do was ensure that the Chief Administrator (President) did not have the power of a king. After all, we had just fought our tails off for the right to not have to be subjugated by King George, and as such provide sovereignty to the people and not the President.
I say this in preparation for something that Valerie Jarrett, co-chair of Obama’s transition team, said on Meet The Press Sunday:
“Given the daunting challenges that we face, it is important that President-elect Obama’s prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one.”
DavidL at BitsBlog takes this at face value , which is not in the least unfair. He characterizes this as a signal that Obama himself holds his sense of power in office at a higher level than the Constitution calls for.
I’m sincerely hoping that this little more than an unfortunate slip, perhaps even Freudian in nature (or not), by someone answering an already unsettling question. Brokaw’s “Are you gonna try to be a shadow government?” should be raising a few eyebrows as well. It piques my interest that a (supposedly) respected member of the press would ask a question like that as if a shadow government makes sense.
Without a doubt, Jarrett was imprudent in her choice of words for this response, whether her words were just ill-chosen are reflective of a real agenda on the part of the coming administration, it serves at this point as adequate warning that we desperately need to keep our eyes on the new leader.
My wife and I had a conversation about yesterday’s announcement of Obama’s plans to roll back the work of the current administration as quickly as possible. I’ve seen commentary and reports today that perhaps Obama and his team may be a bit more circumspect than to execute a wholesale reversal of everything, both for the sake of maintaining relationships across the aisle and (as a sub-text) to keep the people from being overwhelmed by dramatic change.
Nonetheless, it seems plain that the goal will be to turn everything around over the course of time. Slowly enough, and we’ll just be frogs in the kettle, boiling to death without knowing it.
Keep your eyes wide open. It doesn’t matter if you voted for Obama or not, the point is: we must all, always, be on watchful so that our government does not dominate us.
Some would say it has already come to pass over the past 100 years. Perhaps they are right. Lets hope not.
Afterthoughts: After watching this little back and forth between Jarrett and Brokaw a few times, it becomes evident that Jarrett is really lacking practical experience with the Press (don’t make her the communications director, whatever you do). Much of what she says sounds a bit mundane and over stated, like: “there is one President at a time” and “… [Bush] will be the President until January 20”. So we need Civics 101 to have this conversation, but sounding like she has to force herself to acknowledge these facts before explaining the rapid-fire approach the transition team will take… and will hope to use these next 69 days to get the America public accustomed to the workings and plans of the new regime administration.
Finally, for what it’s worth, Obama is technically not President-elect until after the Electoral College meets on December 15. Granted, no one will take this statement seriously, but until then Obama is only the presumptive President-elect. And yes, it’s pretty much a formatily, but if during the next month Barack suddenly sprouts horns or starts establishing a repressive agenda, it’s entirely possible that those electors committed to vote for him could through the election into disarray.
But probably not.