Asking the right question

The founding fathers didn’t trust George Washington with unlimited power. Why should we trust George Bush?

“The founding fathers didn’t trust George Washington with unlimited power. Why should we trust George Bush?”

I have no idea whether Sean Maloney would make a good Attorney General for New York, or for that matter a good Democratic nominee for Attorney General. Nor is it obvious to me, one way or the other, whether warrantless wiretapping is an effective issue in a state-level race, or whether New York State has standing to object to federal wiretapping efforts.

[Here’s a link to the proposed complaint. I’d be interested in informed legal commentary.]

But one thing I’m dead certain of: Maloney, or someone on his campaign, has come up with the perfect formulation of the question. The implied contrast between Washington’s honesty and Bush’s … well, let’s just say “policy” … couldn’t be more effective. This is a line that ought to be in every liberal and Democratic speech and essay on the subject.

“Unlimited power” for the President and an “open-ended commitment” in Iraq. Two excellent things to run against.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com