Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec 27, 2011 / 1 Teves, 5772

‘Dysfunctional’ government is a feature, not a bug

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | You don't need me to tell you that the chattering class is appalled by the partisan gridlock and political bickering that keeps Washington from dealing efficiently with the nation's problems. Last week Gallup measured Congress's job approval at 11 percent, a new low. Heading into Christmas week, you could hardly open a paper or turn on the radio without encountering a wave of dudgeon over the latest legislative squabble -- a standoff over extending a payroll tax cut that expires on Dec. 31. "Just when you thought the mess in Washington couldn't get any messier" was the way an exasperated Washington Post editorial began, while a columnist in The Examiner pronounced the wrangling on Capitol Hill "almost a parody of Washington dysfunction."

So what else is new? Last month it was the failure of the so-called Supercommittee to agree on a package of budget cuts that was said to epitomize the federal establishment's fecklessness. In the spring and summer it was the protracted fight over the federal debt ceiling and Standard & Poor's downgrade of US Treasury bonds. Before that there were the polarizing confrontations over stimulus spending, financial-industry regulation, and Barack Obama's massive health-care overhaul.

Two years ago Newsweek was lamenting that partisan politics had turned this nation into "America the Ungovernable." The liberal newsweekly was in a lather over the political forces conspiring "to prevent President Obama from running the country effectively," and was upset in particular because Massachusetts had just elected a Republican, Scott Brown, to the US Senate. That meant another vote for the GOP's "agenda of pure nihilism," Newsweek fumed, and more of the "political impotency that has come to define the United States in the 21st century."

These days liberals think rather better of Brown, who has positioned himself as the Senate's least conservative Republican and who issues statements condemning "gridlock and partisanship" as "disgusting." When Brown broke with House Republicans over the payroll-tax extension last week, Doris Kearns Goodwin sang his praises on MSNBC: "If there were more Scott Browns then perhaps this partisanship would not be as dysfunctional as it is because he's able to cross party lines."

Of course "this partisanship" would also be less "dysfunctional" if more Democrats decided to cross party lines. It takes two political parties to bring Congress to a standstill, after all. Either one can always speed up the legislative process by yielding to the other.

But our democratic republic wasn't designed for speed or legislative efficiency.

The Framers of the Constitution never expected Congress to clear the decks for sweeping presidential action. They weren't troubled by fears that America would be rendered "ungovernable" by the ease with which new laws or major policy changes could be delayed or derailed. What the smart set bewails today as "gridlock" or "brinksmanship" or an "agenda of pure nihilism," the architects of the American system regarded as indispensable checks and balances. They knew how flawed human beings can be, and how ardently propelled by their passions and ideals.

That was why they regarded restraint -- not speed, not deference to presidents, not bipartisan cooperation, not administrative expertise, not popular opinion -- as the linchpin of their constitutional plan. "Impressions of the moment may sometimes hurry [Congress] into measures which itself on mature reflection would condemn," Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 73. They may not have envisioned Supercommittees, Gallup polls, or MSNBC. But they knew that presidents and lawmakers would always be under pressure to act too fast, do too much, decide too quickly.

So it was essential, Hamilton said, that hurdles and roadblocks be incorporated into the constitutional structure -- "to increase the chances in favor of the community against the passing of bad laws through haste, inadvertence, or design." True, that might sometimes hold up needed change. But "the injury which may possibly be done by defeating a few good laws will be amply compensated by the advantage of preventing . . . bad ones."

The system was meant to be frustrating, and frustrating many have found it. Just this year, North Carolina's governor suggested that congressional elections be "suspended" for two years, so lawmakers could act without fear of being rebuked at the polls. It would be "very tempting," President Obama mused in July, "to bypass Congress, and change the laws own my own."

Such frustration is understandable. It is also one of the safeguards of American liberty. Our constitutional republic has thrived for more than two centuries, but it might never have done so without the "gridlock" and "dysfunction" we love to hate.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

Jeff Jacoby Archives

© 2010, Boston Globe

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles