Thursday, May 16, 2013

LILLIPUTIANS IN THE SECOND TERM: GROWNUPS LONG TIME GONE.

Today, let's look at the IRS, AP and State Department controversies as symptoms.

Yes, I know that our Republican friends will say "Yeah, symptoms of democrats always being corrupt and overreaching."  If we take a historical look at all this, the second term of the Eisenhower administration gave birth to the military-industrial complex that Ike could caution us against but not do anything about.  The second term of of the Nixon Administration was a Plumbers' crack. (Yes, the apostrophe is in the correct place.)  The second term of the Reagan administration gave us a good guy losing his grasp and the Iran-Contra thuggery, coverup and other Meeses. (and I guess messes.)  The second term of the Clinton Administration gave us biological evidence and a president so toxic (at the time) that Al Gore (I believe incorrectly) ran away from him.  The second term of the Bush administration gave us endless war and the "Big Short".

Second term vaporlock is a bi-partisan disease.

Oh, there a lots of theories why.  The favorite seems to be that the legislative agenda becomes impossible as soon as the next election is in sight.  Some folks like the Hubris theory and some go big for the post-election exhaustion theory.  All have merit but I have my own special favorite.

All the grownups go home in the second term.  There is no buffer to the Valerie Jarretts and Oliver Norths.  You can tolerate overzealous and political amateur types when there are professionals in the building.  When the professionals go home and the kids become principal decision-makers you are in trouble.

Why would Clinton go get Dale Bumpers at the end if Cheryl Mills had everything under control?  Why did Baker have to come back for Reagan.  Why did it take so long for Bush to off Rumsfeld?

Getting grownups to join a second term effort is difficult.  Getting zealots and amateurs, full of piss and vinegar but lacking in judgment is easy.  Imbuing them with judgment and wisdom seems out of reach.

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