May 4, 2000
The Role of the President in the
Politics of Disclosure
Part I: The Decline of the Executive
One of the most important political trends
in the second half of the 20th Century is the weakening of the American
presidency - important because of its role in the intricate, constitutionally structured
checks and balance system mentioned in the first column in this series. (See The Role
of the People in the Politics of Disclosure.)
The principal targets of
this counter force are the congress and the military.
The judiciary is rarely in polarity with the executive largely because top judges
are appointed by the president and each party knows they will get their turn. Abuse of influence would only result in
retribution at a later time. It is worth
noting here that the power and prestige of the Supreme Court has remained in tact during
the decline of the executive office.
hyperventilation and malfeasance are restrained by the presidential veto forcing a
two-thirds vote to override. This
check is well known to the public. The check
on the military rests in two principal areas. First,
the president was installed as the Commander in Chief atop the chain of command. Second, the president can bring power to bear
quickly utilizing executive orders, nationalizing the guards, etc. These checks are less understood by the general
public and often questioned. Nevertheless
they are essential to the thwarting of a military coup or draconian act by a rogue
officer, an event virtually unheard of in the United States yet commonplace elsewhere
throughout the world.
As the presidency has declined in power,
prestige and public esteem, its relationship to congress has been modestly affected. It is the balance between it and the military, and
by extension the intelligence agencies, that has been warped to the threshold of danger. It is at this point the politics of
UFOs/disclosure comes into play. But first,
why the decline?
The temptation has always been to lay the
weakening of the American executive off on the flaws in the character of certain modern
presidents. This misses the mark. The overwhelming influence has been the rise of a
comprehensive, even ubiquitous, news media. Intense
coverage of any national leader to ever deeper levels of the personal breeds contempt.
(This principle has worked in spectacular fashion as regards the British monarchy.)
Very large books have been written about
this media effect. Lets sum them all up
the President of United States lives with news media. The White House is the home office of the
first family. A significant portion of
the west wing of that home office has been converted into a press facility. Hundreds of correspondents, photographers and
video technicians come and go every day. They
operate, with benefit of tolerance and courtesy, in a beehive atmosphere in which dozens
of tiny cubicles are crammed into little space, some of which once held the pool water. They are literally working in the deep end.
Want to get away? Out on the White House lawn are permanent camera
platforms set up for correspondents to give commentary with the White House as background. Plans to move the media to new facilities outside
the White House grounds with a secure, underground connection to the press offices have
been floated. Not surprisingly, the press is
reluctant to give up such extraordinary access.
To this authors knowledge no other
leader in any country anywhere in the world lives with the press operating permanently
within the residence/office itself. In order
to truly appreciate this setup, you have to be there its quite amazing.
The great irony is that all of this access
to the executive has reduced the power and influence of the office and made the access all
that less valuable. As the scrutiny
grows, substantive press conferences become scarce. We
seem to learn more and more about less and less.
Presidents have become just another
character in a soap opera, stand up comedians delivering expected shtick at roasts, press
dinners and talk show appearances. We want
them to have the power to launch civilization-ending war but tell us their underwear
preference on demand.
There is now a fundamental rule in American
life that operates with increasing consistency when any aspect of our society is
not working to our satisfaction, we demand television and movies in which it does work to
our satisfaction. Crime on the rise and
punishment/justice problematic? TV and movie screens fill with police dramas with
desirable outcomes. The presidency is
losing influence and respect? movies and programs about the office pour forth.
When one part of the larger system loses
power, another gains. This power didnt
go to the judiciary or legislature, it flowed to the military/intelligence complex . The mechanism of this transference secrecy.
Open, accountable government became
vaudeville in the case of the executive. While
the presidents and vice presidents (and for that matter the candidates) were coming under
ever increasing scrutiny, the military/intelligence complex slipped behind the secrecy
curtain, dropped off the oversight radars, and merged into the background. Its
programs and agendas were not going to be picked apart by the press, its members
private lives untouched, its actions unjudged, and its victims unknown.
If the military/intelligence complex does
not give up this power, the executive branch must take it back. This will be difficult without substantial media
and citizen support, and there are important governing limitations.
First and foremost, we do not have
whistle-blowing presidents. Huh? Presidents do not leave office and blow the
whistle on people, agencies and programs. If
they did, they would be a legal activist gold mine.
Writing as a strong proponent of open government and secrecy reform,
it is still not hard to endorse this practice.
If a president acted in such a fashion, the consequences would be
grave. Access to information for
future presidents would be substantially impacted the office would lose even more
power and become little but a figurehead.
Consequently, if presidents are faced with a
major internal reform issue, they have to address it while they are in office. The UFO/ET cover-up fully qualifies as a major
internal issue, but a sitting president takes that one on at extreme risk to short term
political capital, future elect ability and to the party.
But, an issue of such magnitude is exactly
the kind of measure that would pull power back from the military/intelligence complex to
the executive. It may be the only lever big
enough to do the job.
Which brings forward the obvious question,
which of the two remaining candidates for President of the United States with legitimate
prospects of winning, will be more or less likely to take on the UFO/ET cover-up, the
decline of presidential power, and secrecy reform Bush or Gore.
The Role of the President in the Politics of Disclosure
Part II: The Case for and against Bush
Copyright © 2000 Stephen Bassett