Monday, July 30, 2007
In the early winter of 1975 I had just finished reading a book entitled: "The Accountability of Power: Toward A Responsible Presidency" that decided for me who I would support for President. It's author, Minnesota Senator Walter F. Mondale, had decided to declare for the White House in what promised to be a very crowded field and I was looking forward to joining his campaign. Even though I was only 21 years old at the time my political views were already starting to crystallize. But before I could blink an eye he abandoned his campaign before the political season began to heat up. Though I was lukewarm about Jimmy Carter in 1976, when he chose then Senator Mondale as his running mate I became an enthusiastic follower.
There is no doubt President Carter and Vice President Mondale redefined what a Vice President's political and historical role would be from there on out. Mr. Mondale always had the qualities I admired for a public servant and when he became a the Democratic nominee in 1984 I knew my feelings about him were justified when he chose Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. A lot of political water has gone under the bridge since then as the former Vice President wound up his active political life with an Ambassadorship to Japan under the Clinton administration serving with distinction. Now he speaks out as only a former Vice President can regarding the crisis of leadership we are now faced with and the unaccountability of power he so eloquently wrote and warned us about over a quarter of a century ago. In this past Sunday's Washington Post he made it crystal clear in an editorial what we are faced with in a time where the GOP uses fear & indifference to accountability as an instrument for political rule:
"The corollary to Cheney's zealous
embrace of secrecy is his near total aversion to the notion of accountability.
I've never seen a former member of the House of Representatives
demonstrate such contempt for Congress -- even when it was controlled by his own
party. His insistence on invoking executive privilege to block virtually every
congressional request for information has been stupefying -- it's almost as if
he denies the legitimacy of an equal branch of government. Nor does he exhibit
much respect for public opinion, which amounts to indifference toward being held
accountable by the people who elected him.
Whatever authority a vice
president has is derived from the president under whom he serves. There are no
powers inherent in the office; they must be delegated by the president. Somehow,
not only has Cheney been given vast authority by President Bush -- including,
apparently, the entire intelligence portfolio -- but he also pursues his own
agenda. The real question is why the president allows this to happen.
decades ago we lived through another painful example of a White House exceeding its
authority, lying to the American people, breaking the law and shrouding
everything it did in secrecy. Watergate wrenched the country, and our
constitutional system, like nothing before. We spent years trying to identify
and absorb the lessons of this great excess. But here we are