Regardless of who wins the 2008 presidential election (since either way you will need a drink) there is one shared reason to join us and celebrate after work on November 4: our long national nightmare in the form of this endless presidential campaign is finally coming to a close.
Of course, another long-running nightmare continues. The promises made by both candidates, and our own expectations of what they can provide the country, underscore the dangerous, Zeus-like status we have conferred upon the presidency as Gene Healy details in The Cult of the Presidency, which George Will calls “the year’s most pertinent and sobering public affairs book.”
Healy will take to the podium for an enlightening discussion of his book (which will be available for purchase and signing) and of the two candidates. You won’t have to worry about who’s winning, since we’ll have a TV screen available to track the early election returns. But Healy’s remarks may make you wonder about how much it may ultimately matter. As he argues in The Cult of the Presidency, so long as we look to the president to heal the economy, teach our children well, provide perfect protection from terrorism and hurricanes and even guard our souls against spiritual malaise we can hardly complain about our burgeoning Imperial Presidency. On November 4, as the returns come in, Healy will argue that the presidency has escaped the confines of the Constitution, and that, now more than ever, the office must be returned to its original, modest role in American life.