Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Katrina vanden Heuvel is a Coupk

Over at The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel is trying to resurrect a 1996 theme: "Government Shutdown as Coup d'Etat."

It was stupid when Sheldon Wolin pulled it out of his hat back then, and it's stupid now.

But my inbox says it's starting to catch on: I've got significant quantities of political spam rolling in -- "Stop the 1% GOP CRUZ COUP" and such-like.

It is not a "coup d'etat."

What it is is bad dinner theater. Or a commercial break during an interminable soap opera. Or the trash talk interval in "professional wrestling."

To the extent that it is a real issue at all, that issue is the continuing expansion of executive power.

It's supposed to be "Congress legislates, the president executes."

It's supposed to be "Congress appropriates the money, the president spends the money per Congress's instructions."

The exceptions to that were clearly intended by the framers of the Constitution to be rare and non-catastrophic. A veto now and again, and it either gets over-ridden or it doesn't, and life goes on.

But over the last hundred years or so it has more and more become "the president tells Congress what he wants them to legislate and how much money he wants to spend on stuff (that actually became a legal requirement in 1920), and either they rubber-stamp his demands or he throws himself on the floor and beats it with his fists and feet while they stand in the corner and hold their breath until they turn blue while both of them scream 'MOOOOOOO-OM! It's HIS fault!'"

And of course as I have already pointed out, it's not a "shutdown" either.

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