Gene Healy Says U.S. Presidents Aren't Worth Celebrating


White House
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As law professor Garrett Epps has noted, the Framers did something new under the sun with the creation of the presidency. But "it wasn't their best work." The Framers thought they'd made separation of powers largely self-executing: Ambition would counteract ambition, so that, in Madison's words, "the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights." But the mechanism doesn't work as planned: The private interests of individual congressmen lead them to cede power to the executive branch and focus on reelection. Congress rarely guards its institutional turf—yet every president ends up leaving the presidency stronger than he found it. The results are nothing to celebrate. Every year, there are conservatives who complain about a "War on Christmas." If there's ever a War on Presidents Day, writes Gene Healy, sign me up.