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David Mamet, Constitutional Scholar

[ 2 ] April 21, 2008 |

An appropriately Ruthless Review, pointing out the problem with Mamet’s Voice position paper was not its conservatism but its jaw-dropping banality and many strawman burnings. I’m glad they reminded me about this part:

The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches. So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long.

Leaving aside that any remotely knowledgeable person would know that the Constitution hasn’t actually worked that way in practice (the separation of powers often leads to the evasion and delegation of responsibility rather than power maximization by all branches), it’s pretty depressing to see a great playwright deciding instead to write summaries of bad sixth-grade civics textbooks and then triumphantly announcing these insights as producing a political transformation so earth-shaking it requires a cover story to elucidate. It is instructive about the intellectual shallowness likely to produce a “since 9/11, I’m outraged by that some unnamed people still allegedly believe in crude reductionist readings of Rousseau” conservative.