Presidents Questions

The first time I saw PMQ (Prime Minister's Questions), I fell in love with it. It was quick and dirty, and I loved the hooting and hollering from the back-benchers, whether in support or opposition to the Prime Minister. That the effective ruler of a country would be subjected to such treatment seemed to me so, well, American that I wondered why we don't do something like that ourselves.

The editorial board of the NY Times raises the possibility of an American version, and is, like me, in favor of it. They point out some obvious concerns--would Congresspeople ask legitimate questions without the inanity that accompanies most Congressional panels? Would any President actually answer questions, or would they engage in the same kind of dodging and weaving that they do today?

By the way, I don't believe for a second that John McCain would actually try to institute such a program. It's a calculated statement meant to enhance his undeserved maverick status. When he introduces legislation to make it happen, I'll revisit that.

But I have a different reason for wanting to see a President's Questions program. I find it amazing how a country that screams about how democratic it is, and how much it wants to spread democracy, treats its President with the same pomp and deference given to any monarch. Britain, which has a royal family, at least has the good sense to remove their monarchs from the running of the country. I'd like to see the office of the Presidency taken down a peg or two, frankly.

The last 8 years have given us a President who feels he's above the law--the theory of the Unitary Executive posits that the President is the equal of any Emperor. That's crap, given our system of government. President's Questions would drive home the fact that Congress is a co-equal branch of government, and that the Executive is as beholden to them as they are to us as the public.

And besides, it would make C-SPAN even better.

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