Saturday, August 11, 2007

Risking the Dynasty

Kevin Drum, always interesting reading, posted Friday about the kind of thinking that led to Congress giving the Bush Administration increased surveillance powers in the FISA update.

Note the way the incentives work here. If you pass the bill, the results are ambiguous. Sure, a lot of people will be angry, but they'll probably get over it eventually (or so the thinking goes). But if you stall the bill and a terrorist strikes, you are firmly and completely screwed. Goodbye political career. So which choice do you think a risk-averse politicians is likely to make?

He doesn’t engage in a lot of discussion regarding what he thinks about this rationale, other than,

Nobody wants to risk being proved wrong in a way that's so crystal clear there's simply no chance of talking your way out of it. It's this fear that gives national security hawks the upper hand in any terror-related debate. Still.

I know I posted about this just a few days ago, but the constitutional crisis we face in this country is not the one that everybody is talking about. There is a far worse crisis than the confrontation between the Bush Administration and Congress, a crisis that is corroding the fabric of democracy in a far worse manner than the criminality of Bush and Company, and that is the effect of moneyed interest on, the control that it has established over, the political process in this country at all levels.

What is the risk to which Kevin Drum refers? It’s the risk to reelection. It’s the risk of prematurely ending a political dynasty.

We are governed now by political dynasties; Kennedys, Bushes, Clintons, et al. No doubt Jeb Bush will be the next president after eight years of Hillary Clinton, and after eight years of him it will be time for, perhaps, Chelsea. Congressmen and Senators, short of copulating with a goat on the steps of the capitol building, serve for life and then their children run for office based on name recognition.

One article after another speaks to waste and fraud in government and finishes with the fond hope that in just over a year things will get better when the Democrats take over. If things get better at all, the difference will be marginal, because the waste and fraud are prompted by the moneyed interests who profit from it and they have purchased both parties equally. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican you cannot perpetuate your dynasty without the large amounts of cash provided by corporate sponsors.

On the rare occasion the someone does “screw the goat” and get replaced, in very short order we find that, rather than installing a fresh viewpoint and different behavior, we have merely started a new dynasty.

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