I was too busy at work to watch any of Mrs. Clinton’s testimony at the Benghazi hearings yesterday, so I did the next best thing and checked out Twitter periodically to see the partisans on both sides of the media defend their standard-bearer. I obviously fall on one side of that line, but the willful blindness of the reporters in the Clinton camp was more difficult to take than usual.
Most of the press support her party in the upcoming elections, and that’s neither surprising nor likely to change, but pretending not to understand the problem here, and pretending to be shocked at the partisanship of the hearings is absurd. Some of us have memories that predate January 2009, and we recall that Congress has always, always had partisan hearings. It’s the whole nature of check and balances.
Part of the genius of our system of government is that it is designed to be carried out by self-interested people and factions. Our founding fathers did not delude themselves into thinking that only the purest of men would lead the nation; to the contrary, they knew that people craved power, and they set up a Constitution that would use that desire to help us govern.
A Congress jealous of the executive’s strength is going to use its powers, including the power of investigation, to limit that executive. They will do this not because they are paragons of virtue, but because they want that power for themselves. And it works! Congresses investigate presidential wrongdoing. Is it political? Yes! And that’s a good thing! Politics is the way a free people governs itself.
James Madison put it best in Federalist 51:
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
Mankind is imperfect and antagonistic, but in their mutual antagonism, the branches of government check each others abuses and preserve the people’s liberty. That’s what we saw today, and that’s what we’ll see in the next administration, and the one after that, and the one after that. Today, whether anyone will admit it or not, the system worked.