I wrote in another post on Dick Cheney’s view of the power of the Presidency. I was essentially reporting and summarizing a program on PBS Frontline. twelve hours have passed and some thoughts have bubbled to the surface.
Dick Cheney has been around a long time. He was present in the Nixon Administration and was Chief of Staff in the Ford Administration. I think these early experiences had a big impact on the young Cheney. Nixon secretly bombed Cambodia, covered up illegal activities by his reelection staff, fired Attorney Generals who did not agree, claimed Executive Privilege to deny information to the Congress – and on and on – excessive abuse of power. The result was that Congress passed laws to limit the powers of the President. Presidents Ford and Carter suffered the consequences while Dick Cheney watched and pondered the problem.
Ronald Reagan restored the power of the Presidency through the force of his personality and the used of the ‘bully pulpit.’ But Congressional over site remained. Cheney became the Secretary of Defense under Bush the First and was frustrated with the Congressional intervention into Administrative life.
Dick Cheny understands how to use power – but he does not understand power. I have talked in previous posts about having authority (power.) The undisguised reality is that with authority comes responsibility. Irresponsible use of power always has consequences. Dick Cheney should know this as well as anyone – but the idea seems to have escaped him. The restriction of Presidential authority was a result of Nixon’s abuses of that authority.
Dick Cheney hopes to leave office having restored the just power of the Presidency. His abuse of that power could have the opposite affect. We have a Government that is guided by a balance of power. The power of government is shared between the Presidency, the Congress, and the Judiciary. When one branch of government gets out of control – it will be reigned in. That is how this government was designed to work. The Founding Fathers intentionally created a separation of powers, three branches of government to watch over each other.
Dick Cheney has completely missed the point of the Founding Fathers. His personal quest for power has blinded him to the wonders of the best form of government ever conceived by man.