Walking through Washington is always like walking through a pasture. During elections, the amount of well, bullsh** is just overwhelming.
With conventions around the corner, it will be flying in earnest.
While this will not be an exhaustive guide to campaign bull, I’ll hit the high points, the ones the public keeps falling for year-after-year without fail.
The President has something to do with jobs. There is a book in Washington called “The Plum Book,” which is a listing of all the jobs the President appoints. The President appoints Cabinet Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries all of whom require Senate Confirmation, and Schedule C employees who are not confirmed by the Senate, and his or her personal White House Staff. That’s it, these are all the jobs he “creates,” and they are authorized by Congress, so he doesn’t unilaterally create even the jobs he gives out in the Administration.
He or she does not create jobs for the economy. He or she doesn’t even create jobs for the Government, the Congress does that. This is one of the all-time scams in Washington.
What effect does he have on jobs? Insofar as The President can set a stage for increased economic expansion, not much. A President can negotiate a trade treaty, but he or she must have the approval of Congress. In fact, there is precious little the President can do unilaterally that increases jobs at all.
The Bully-Pulpit is the President’s most powerful tool. Motivational Speaker-In-Chief and American Business Cheerleader pretty well explores the limits of the President’s power over jobs.
The most important economic decision a President makes is who will be head of the Federal Reserve Bank? Having power over interest rates and the money supply is true economic power. In that decision, the President sets the stage for how well the economy will operate during the Fed Chief’s term that coincides with the President’s term.
Another myth widely told is that the President controls the economy in general. Remember the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR? That was a centrally planned economy. The same with China before communism fell and made a soft landing. China is now communist in name only.
America is a free market economy. The President manages our economy as much as the rooster manages the sunrise. He takes credit for the sun coming up when things are good and takes the hit when things go bad. Never is he or she entitled to the first, and rarely is he or she the blame for the second.
It is much easier for a President to temporarily harm things than to help things. For example, prior to 9/11, we had a surplus thanks to the dot-com revolution of the 1990s, and NO neither Bill Clinton or Al Gore had anything to do with that other than to be in office when it happened. Al Gore had minor bragging rights via legislation he sponsored in the Senate that donated the backbone of what became the internet, to the public. The reality is Al’s legislation was going nowhere until Senator John Warner came along with legislation that replaced the backbone with something else for the Pentagon that was better, so sorry, Al, you didn’t invent it.
Along comes George Bush, and gets us involved in two wars, not just one, post 9/11, when a massive attack on Kabul would have sufficed. Instead, we get two wars that a generation later we’re still involved in, a huge deficit, and a much less safe world. However, the Congress helped in that so let’s not just blame George.
The fact is power in our system is dispersed, and that is by design. The founders saw what concentrated power in the hands of a few was capable of doing, and they wanted no part of that. This disbursement of power has more to do with us being free than perhaps any other factor. After all, when we get rid of a politician, it is often for abuse of power.
The final area where it rains pure bull is in Foreign Policy. How many times have we seen a finger pointed at the President, and heard the words: “He lost fill-in-the-name-of-whatever-country-is-in-conflict”?
The President is not King of the World. Believe it or not, people in foreign countries have minds of their own, and don’t sit around all day wondering how their actions will affect the USA, or ask themselves what the USA thinks.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, America has largely gotten out of the business of fomenting revolutions in other nations.
To tell the truth, we never were really that good at it. We had some temporary success in places like Nicaragua, but Ortega came back like a bad penny. Cuba is another example. We need to have robust relationships and strong ties with nations, but to think we control them or they are ours to lose, is just utter poppycock.
The two major parties start their conventions in a few weeks. In preparation, I might suggest getting a sturdy box, and a strong shovel to clean up the bull that will be flying out of your TV over the next few weeks and months.
Is it important who is President? Of course, it is important, but not for the reasons listed above, which is what they will try to sell you. I’ll share more about the true reasons as the campaign unfolds.
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