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The Voice Of Moderation

By Al Schumann on Friday December 31, 2010 10:51 PM

...consider the modern system of presidential primaries. Through most of American history, somebody like Sarah Palin could never have gained the support of party leaders who dominated the traditional party conventions. But today’s primary system—dominant only since 1972—permits right- or left-extremists to win a major party nomination.

Bruce Ackerman

Indeed! Just look at the extreme left nominees from the Democratic Party. Walter Mondale led the jacquerie that sacked Fairfax County and torched the CIA headquarters at Langley. John Kerry will go down in history as the John Brown of Wall Street. His last stand at the New York Fed is part of the urban warfare studies program at West Point. Barack Obama narrowly beat back a challenge from Hillary Clinton, whose Che beret and guerilla army of AK47-toting Pumas struck fear throughout the Mid West.

Truly, we live in parlous times. The rest of the Ackerman article is just as insightful, by the way. For example,

This isn’t the place to get into further details—the key point is to create an institution with the integrity necessary to say “No” when the president is violating Congress’ commands.

Thank God he does go into details, inapprorpiate place notwithstanding. To the uninitiated, that institution would be Congress. I think there was some moldy old document or another that outlined the procedures, responsibilities and stuff. But anyway, if it's not up to the task, and clearly it isn't, then Ackerman has a swell idea. He calls it the Supreme Executive Tribunal.

The point of the Supreme Executive Tribunal is to apply a legalistic break at a far earlier stage in the life-cycle of a runaway presidency—requiring the president’s lawyers to defend their actions in front of the tribunal before they go into effect.

Whoo! Boy that'll cramp the style of a rampaging president. The essential component, and I think Bruce would agree, is to make sure only the most thoughtful, deep thinking jurists are appointed to the Supreme Executive Tribunal. They should be people who, well, they should be people like Bruce, and maybe Todd Gitlin and that nudge guy, Cass Sunstein.

The late Tony Judt called liberals "Bush's useful idiots". Bruce and Todd responded by answering to the name of liberals. They said so. They said "we answer to the name of liberals"—not useful idiots, liberals. They made a point of that. Judt was wrong about them, of course. They are not useful in any way.

Comments (3)

LA Confidential Pantload:

That paragraph about the Supreme All-American Star Chamber or whateverthefuck is a doozy. Not only is it a grammatical mess (why would the lawyers be defending their actions? wouldn't they be defending the President's actions?), it posits that this tribunal will be aware of the Prez's actions...before he takes them! Jesus Christ.

And it certainly doesn't add to his argument that he seems blissfully unaware (unless he mentions it elsewhere - I ain't going over there and getting out of the boat) of the impeachment process.


This is called "reformism". Leave the structure in place, tinker with it, chop off an excess, add a program or a department, study it with a bi-partisan commission, adjust the money supply, increase the opacity to a gullible public. A comical version of Kafka's Castle.

Liberals? Useful idiots? Useless, more like.

Yeah, that gag sucked. Gimme a break. I'm still burnt from last night.

But, seriously, folks...

The point of the Supreme Executive Tribunal is to apply a legalistic break at a far earlier stage in the life-cycle of a runaway presidency—requiring the president’s lawyers to defend their actions in front of the tribunal before they go into effect...

Maybe it's just my having grown up in the '60s and '70s, or maybe it's just context, or maybe I'm just reading into it, but the word "tribunal" has always had really creepy connotations for me; it always seems to remind me of shadowy unaccountable cabals, or old-school Latin American military dictatorships run by 80 year-old officers in wraparound sunglasses. The phrase "Supreme Executive Tribunal", though, while even creepier, still sounds strangely comical somehow (Hail Fredonia!).

Also... am I the only one here who thinks it's somehow apropos that you can't spell "Gitlin" without "git"?

(Oh, alright, I'm going now.)

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