Question Time

It pains me to admit it, but John McCain has a good idea here:

I will ask Congress to grant me the privilege of coming before both houses to take questions, and address criticism, much the same as the Prime Minister of Great Britain appears regularly before the House of Commons.

Bruce Buchanan proposed this in his intriguing but now out of print book The Presidential Experience: What the Office Does to the Man. If it could be enshrined as a regular custom–something presidents are expected to do, like releasing their tax returns–it might help bring the office down to earth, and prevent the president from isolating himself from alternative viewpoints. But the new custom would only be worth having if it was conducted in the rude spirit the British bring to it. I remember as a kid being struck by the image of Margaret Thatcher getting berated some backbencher in a gangrene-colored tie (and matching teeth), who’d say “right honorable gentlelady” (or whatever) in a tone that reeked of contempt. Though she gave as good as she got, the entire process repudiated the idea that she floated on a higher plane than her colleagues.

Plus, with McCain in the dock, you might get the bonus of a Captain Queeg moment.

Posted on May 17, 2008 in Cult of the Presidency | Comments

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