Friday, July 09, 2004

What goes on in the White House?

Ok, so the last of DeLong's entries didn't quite capture the delight of reading his blog. He has bunch of running themes that tie a lot of his posts together. For example, one is "We need a better press corps." Anyhow, here's one that might do the trick—Cheney as Grand Vizier. We've been hearing all along that Bush sucks as president, but the truth should be much more than that. Of course, a president shouldn't be a one man executive show. He's got to have a strong staff. Then there are those (I included) that DeLong quotes who publicly say that Cheney does the actualy presiding. How much involvement does the president (or should the president) have in making the countless decisions involved in leading the American governemnt? DeLong lays out three possible explanations floating around. I actually had to think to figure out the differences between the first two, but as this is coming from republicans who are in the administration, I'd expect it to be nuanced and not plain as day. He seems to implying a general model of how the executive branch could work where the Head-of-State is the figure head and the Chief of Staff as the Head-of-Government who coordinates staff, leaving the specifics to each theory.

The first theory is that Bush is the moral leader, attempting to follow in the footsteps of Reagan. Cheney runs the show as the "Grand Vizier", Rumsfeld owns foreign policy and O'Neill formerly running domestic policy. It's implied that these guys know what they are doing.

The next theory posits that, instead of a bunch of guys running the show, Cheney's serving as Head-of-Government coordinating the staff (and not actually dictating all policy), but doing it badly.

The third is that Bush, unfortunately, not only is Head-of-State but actually does want to make all the decisions of head-of-government, but isn't interested enough to get adequate information before doing so. This one is more sophisticated and you'd definitely want to check this one out.

What does Brad think? I don't want to imply that his quotes are all soundbites, but it's just the way things turned out:

Which of these theories is correct? I don't believe Theory 1--I don't believe that the American government has been honestly and competently led over the past 3 1/2 years, whether by Cheney or by somebody else. I don't have enough information to decide between theories 2 and 3.

The frustrating thing is that the elite White House press corps does, in all probability, have the information to decide between theories 2 and 3. Yet with a few exceptions (Ron Suskind, I believe, plumps for theory 3), they aren't saying what they think. They need to find a way to do so.

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