As those who regularly read Who Is IOZ? know, I am not impressed by the idea that George W. Bush represents some kind of definitive break with the past, that his presidency is uniquely aberrant, that his imperialism is somehow without precedent, that his power-grabbing is a novelty among chief executives, or that his evident insanity represents anything other than the mean of Oval Office occupiers. I have consistently argued, in fact, that he represents "an apotheosis, not an aberration," and I have tried to note plainly that while Democrats are long on the rhetoric of restoration, they are short on its mechanics. With the clear exceptions of universal patsy Dennis Kucinich and Mike "Vast Active Living Intelligence System" Gravel, no Democrat has allowed that he or she will actually repudiate any of the "new" powers that the current administration has oppenly arrogated to itself. In looking back over the long, fruitless, smoke-and-mirrors debate over wiretapping, surveillance, and domestic spying, the most notable characteristic the Democratic party, aside from their operatic capitulation at every juncture, has been their committment to arguing not that no president and no government should possess such powers, but rather that George W. Bush cannot be trusted to properly exercise them. Insofar as the administration has argued that it requires more "flexibility," or that it needs to "keep up with the technology," the nearly uniform response from the supposed opposition has been to point out that, hell, he's already got the flexibility and the techology. We can already spy on the poor bastards, goes the argument, so you can stop fiddling around with the rules.
If any doubts remained that Democrats are principally interested in wielding the aggregated powers of the "unitary executive" to their own purposes and ends, it should be dispelled by the ongoing primary fight over which Democrat will be ready on "day one" to step in as the "commander in chief." Clinton and her advisors specifically use the term in its neologistic glory, but both she and Obama discuss their presidential ambitions in dictatorial terms. I use the word here in its Roman sense: one person, "temporarily" empowered through some democratic or parliamentary process, to wield what is essentially total control over the mechanisms of the state. The Commander in Chief of the United States of America, military, citizens, and all. In large part, Democratic partisans share this desire, as their barely-concealed envy at the subordinate relationship of the Republican congress to our Lord Protector reveals. Let me put it to you straight: I am not looking forward to the next four years.