Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Duties of the Executive

While I never really balked at the notion of the President of the United States acting as a sort of substitute for royalty in various situations for our country it does seem a tad disgusting that the present President acts as a hyperactive conscience voice, a mobile apologetic device designed to modify perception according to a precise agenda. In theory there is a unified voice and face with a smooth continuity, despite variations in specific policy, foreign and otherwise. In that sense President Truman carried on President Roosevelt's notion of peace based on strength and a front of courage and what could call "the power of pride" or "American power". Let us just say that President Truman and President Roosevelt and President Reagan and President Bush 43 all recognize that the inherent greatness of their shared nation and despite differences in specific approach the mission implies representing the country as a collective entity bigger than the sins of its citizens (past, present and future) and much greater than the virtuous acts, decisions, orders, and/or policies of a single individual in the present day. The country must be represented as a sort of monolithic force representing a shared set of ethos and any country itself has intertwined a national interest that means protecting the citizenry from the malevolent outsiders. When making friends or holding off enemies (and in the foreign policy arena only a telepath can tell one from the other) one must maintain the truth that essentially our country is has it has always been and that it was and will be always worth protecting and serving.

The current President does not present our country as a monolith in that sense and testifies to other nations as if our nation is a nebulous collective project whose worth and virtue wax and wane based on the choices of its leadership. To that end we see Presidents who assess success and failure based on projects and specific crusades and not on sensible foundations for ongoing policy. For instance, the current President continues to characterize the conflict in Iraq as "the war in Iraq", which is a common misnomer, but he characterizes it as a war started and continued in an isolated medium, that of the realm of responsibility for his own predecessor. Rather than place it in the historical context of an American military action or a front of an ongoing policy regarding state-sponsored terrorism, President Obama tells the tale of a war that distracted from a policy of hunting plotters.

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