Turf War
An interesting piece at Politico.com today reports on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s attempts to establish some institutional boundaries between the Democratically-controlled Congress and the incoming Obama Administration. I wish her luck with that endeavor. It is true that out on the campaign trail Barack Obama occasionally spoke of the need to establish a new equilibrium in the relationship between the executive and legislative branches. But the history of the modern presidency is one of inexorably expanding presidential prerogative, and the Bush Administration certainly did its part to accelerate the process like never before.
While running for office, presidential candidates often profess the need to roll back the institutional overreach of the incumbent administration. But once in office, they typically find their executive powers are either just about right for the tasks at hand, or need to be augmented even further. Dick Cheney recently commented that he thought the Obama Administration would be unlikely to roll back the scope of its executive authority anytime soon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns out to be correct in that assumption.

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