Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy days are here ... in ten weeks

An administration that the voters have resoundingly rejected plans to make policy over the next ten weeks. Just as it was with the Clinton Administration, even though I agreed with many of those policies, this is a bad feature of our long latency between election and power.

In a slower world, it worked. In a world where honorable people on both sides observed the results of elections, it worked. Everyone understood that we had a caretaker government.

We no longer live in that world. We instead live with Republicans for whom time-honored but extra-legal norms (redistricting once per decade, comity in the Senate instead of 60 votes to do anything, accuracy trumping speed in vote-counting, limits on executive power, etc.) are so much frippery to be discarded. Some conservatives!

Consequently, we need, as we previously recognized in the Twentieth Amendment, to move forward Inauguration Day. How about the Tuesday before Thanksgiving? That would certainly be appropriate this year, even if this is way too late for 2008.

While we're at this, no more lame duck sessions of Congress! Election the first Tuesday in November, oath of office on New Inauguration Day.

Lest you think there's not enough time for the inevitable recounts, there should be real and explicit provision for a real caretaker government. But the truth is that hand recounts can easily be accomplished in that period - if you really try. And it's certainly time for strict Federal election standards. The patchwork of bullshit we have now is laughably ridiculous. I'm embarrassed to live in a first world country with such third world voting practices.

As long as we're reforming the political process, we should also prohibit the President from pardoning or commuting the sentence of any member of his (or her) administration who was high enough to be confirmed by Congress or who is yet a potential witness to an investigation of a confirmed appointee. Accountability! It's a bitch, baby. Again, too late for the Bushist crime syndicate, but we should at least learn the right lessons from the mugging they've given us.

Update (11/21): Paul Krugman's take on the policy vacuum under the lame duck Bushists.

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