Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Heat in The Kitchen

Lee Harris has a good piece over at TCS Daily which offers some sage advice to Senator Clinton and others who keep appearing before the cameras and complaining that it is a disservice to them for President Bush to place the current fight in Iraq on their plate. As Harris notes, the job of the Presidency does not become a blank slate free from previous office holders actions or the messes that result from such actions on January 21st but is a continuing story but with different actors who have to find their own way. Harris puts it best when he noted the following:

It is the Constitution, after all, that forces us to consider swapping horses on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every four years; it is the same document that, after FDR, forbids us to keep any horse for more than eight years. It is the Constitution that requires that our elections come like clockwork, despite the fact that sweeping and traumatic historical events, such as wars foreign and civil, seldom re-arrange their schedule to fit in with ours. It is, in short, the Constitution that makes it utterly inevitable that Presidents will often be forced to pass on their own messes to their successors and that these successors will be compelled to handle them as best they can—and to do so with the best grace they can manage.

No one is under any obligation to run as a candidate for the Presidency; but those who elect to do so are under a high and serious obligation to understand the nature of the office to which they are aspiring. If, like Lincoln, a future President Clinton finds herself confronted with a mess made by her predecessor in office, it will not be enough for her to blame Mr. Bush for his incompetence and mismanagement. It will avail her naught to continue to declare that Iraq is Bush's responsibility. By then, whether she likes it or not, Iraq will be her responsibility, and no one else's. If she refuses to recognize this unpleasant truth now, while still a candidate, how prepared will she be to recognize it when she is President and it is too late to throw the responsibility on someone else?

"We cannot escape history," Lincoln once said sadly and solemnly. We cannot undo what has been done; we cannot wish it away or blame it into oblivion; we cannot arbitrarily decide which parts of the past shall influence our future. We are stuck with what has been, and are constrained to make the best of it. History may or may not agree in blaming the mess in Iraq entirely on George Bush, as Senator Clinton has done; but history will not absolve his successor for refusing to take his—or her--responsibility for cleaning up the mess, regardless of who made it, or how it came about.

Is this fair? No, of course not. But then, history isn't fair, and those who resent this fact, as Senator Clinton appears to do, are well advised to steer clear of it.

Aside from Harris' reference to Lincoln, I'm reminded of when Eisenhower taking over the Korean War from Truman, Vietnam being passed by LBJ to Nixon, or Reagan received a weakened military and beleaguered national spirit from Jimmy Carter. While these individuals could have complained that laying all this on their plate as being "unfair" but most other presidents they tried their very best to make do with what they had at hand. To me, If you can't handle all the problems that comes your way with regards to the office of the President of the United States then you probably shouldn't seek the office.

1 comment:

shliknik said... mean you can blame Bush for the economic collapse he enherited from Clinton? Clinton rode the internet boom for his tenure and left office just as it was slipping.

I didn't know you couldn't blame Bush for that though 'cause the Dems sure did.