“Great” Presidents: They’re Good for the Soul!

Scroll to the end of the audio of this Federalist Society debate on “Executive Discretion & the Rule of Law” for the following gem from the unsatirizable Harvey Mansfield:

Q: is the type of [presidential] greatness you’re talking about consistent with separation of powers [and is it] necessarily good for individuals?

A: ….Is it always good for the individual? No, if by good for the individual you mean make him more wealthy or more secure, but… what… what is good for your soul? what is good for your soul is something that enlarges it and makes it respect itself more and it gives you something to be proud of–and that’s what a great president does in our country. Our greatness is wrapped up in our great presidents.

Huh. And here I thought the ostensible purpose of the national government was to make the individual more prosperous and secure. And I thought that tasks like enlarging the soul and making it, er, respect itself more, were beyond the purview of the federal government’s chief magistrate, who was to have “no particle of spiritual jurisdiction.”

Shows how much I know. I mean, until HM published Manliness a few years back, I was inclined to doubt that you could learn much on the subject from some twee, tweed-jacketed fellow whose own bio brags that “he has hardly left Harvard since his first arrival in 1949.”

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Posted on May 13, 2008 in Arts and Culture, Cult of the Presidency | 6 Comments

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