“Cult of the Presidency” Author to Speak in Portland

Is the 2008 presidential campaign getting to you?

Whether you love it, hate it, or are otherwise just fascinated by it, join Cascade Policy Institute and Cato at McCormick & Schmick’s on Wednesday, April 30, for a riveting evening exploring “America’s dangerous devotion to executive power.”

This is your opportunity to meet Gene Healy, Cato’s senior editor and author of the new book The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power. A delicious seafood buffet will be served.

In this provocative book, Gene Healy argues that when our scholars lionize presidents who break free from constitutional restraints, when our columnists and talking heads repeatedly call upon the “commander in chief “ to dream great dreams and seek the power to achieve them, and when voters look to the president for salvation from all problems great and small””should we really be surprised that the presidency has burst its constitutional bonds and grown powerful enough to threaten American liberty?

The Cult of the Presidency takes a step back from the ongoing red team/blue team combat and shows that, at bottom, conservatives and liberals agree on the boundless nature of presidential responsibility. For both camps, it is the president’s job to grow the economy, teach our children well, provide seamless protection from terrorist threats, and rescue Americans from spiritual malaise. Very few Americans seem to think it odd, says Healy, “when presidential candidates talk as if they’re running for a job that’s a combination of guardian angel, shaman, and supreme warlord of the earth.”

Interweaving historical scholarship, legal analysis, and trenchant cultural commentary, The Cult of the Presidency traces America’s decades-long drift from the Framers’ vision for the presidency: a constitutionally constrained chief magistrate charged with faithful execution of the laws. Restoring that vision will require a Congress and a Court willing to check executive power, but Healy emphasizes that there is no simple legislative or judicial “fix” to the problems of the presidency. Unless Americans change what we ask of the office””no longer demanding what we should not want and cannot have””we’ll get what, in a sense, we deserve.

Space is limited, so RSVP today for this exclusive event at McCormick & Schmick’s in Portland (0309 SW Montgomery St.), Wednesday, April 30, 5-7 p.m. $10 per person.

To reserve your place or for more information, contact Nancy Wheaton at (503) 242-0900.


Cascade Policy Institute is Oregon’s free market think tank.

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Posted by at 10:30 | Posted in Measure 37 | 4 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • davidg

    Some of the questions I would have liked to have heard asked at some of the presidential “debates”:

    Is the presidency too powerful?
    How can it be restrained?

    Would you be willing to renounce the use of “signing statements”?

    Has Congress improperly delegated the war-making power to the president?

    If “No Child Left Behind” allows the federal government to control local schools, what limits exist on the government’s power over every other aspect of our lives?

    Do you see any danger in how the “Patriot Act” gives government the power to secretly snoop into our private lives?

    The conduct of this year’s presidential debates amply demonstrates Gene Haely’s premise that the presidency has become too powerful, and that too many people have come to accept that. With the notable exception of Ron Paul, all of the questions from the interviewers and responses from the candidates assumed an all powerful president. I’d sure like to see some more questions and answers discussing limits of presidential power.

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