October 5

Ignorance remains a delicate flower


It is surprising how little some Australian commentators on the American election understand the US constitutional system.

That the US House of Representatives rejected the bail out when it first came before it is not at all surprising.  

Because they hate him, too many commentators jumped to the conclusion that this only happened because President Bush, alone among US departing presidents, had lost all authority.

Once again, this illustrates the danger of trying to fit the news to one’s personal preferences.

Since they changed the constitution to limit presidents to two terms, all presidents now lose some  authority in the last few months of their  second terms, as President Clinton did.

But most importantly, Washington is not Westminster. Administrations are not made nor do they fall on the floor of the House, or indeed on the floor of the more powerful Senate.

The administration is vested in one person – the president – for four years.

Voting against a president’s proposal, however crucial, does not bring the administration down. There is then no incentive to develop the tight party system we know.

The fact that the House feels free to vote against the President is a check and balance in a republic where politicians fill all of the branches of government.

In the last few decades, this has extended even to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court justices are appointed through what has become a highly politicised process.

This is a direct result of the court seizing a clearly legislative role disguised as constitutional

interpretation.  “As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap.”

….Gerard Henderson calls a halt…

The checks and balances are different in a constitutional monarchy, or as John Howard and Justice Michael Kirby prefer, a crowned republic.

In ours, the Australian Crown is one check and balance on the interdependence of the House and the government.

It took Gerard Henderson, who is committed to constitutional change here, to remind commentators of the fundamental features of the American constitutional system.

Speaking on the on the ABC’s Insiders on 4 October, 2008, Dr. Henderson also reminded the media of their unmitigated bias about the US election.

This is not only in the US but also Australia.

Surely the media’s role is to inform, not to campaign. It will be for the people of the United States, through their votes of delegates to the Electoral College, who will decide who will govern.

One example, if not of bias, of certainly imbalance, was on the ABC’s Q & A on 2 October, 2008. This  featured a satirical clip on Governor Sarah Palin. So why wasn't there one on Senator Joe Biden?

For the Senator, they would not have even needed a script. It is not uncommon for candidates to give intereviews they later regret. The media should not concentrate on one side.

Senator Biden said recently:

” Part of what a leader does is to instil confidence and demonstrate that he or she knows what their talking about…..In the stock market crash of 1929,  Franklin Roosevelt got on television…."

There is no record of the then President, President Hoover, going on television at this time; this was some years before regular broadcasts began in London.

That last ABC Q&A for the year (and we are barely in the last quarter of the year) had a painfully overloaded panel, a hyperactive audience and too much of a tendency to throw the switch to vaudeville.

The revelation was Tom Switzer, former opinion editor of The Australian and former senior policy adviser to Dr. Brendan Nelson.

A young conservative who is clearly very independent, he is a TV natural.   


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