In his 2009 inaugural address, President Barack Obama said, “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.” It’s been a little more than three years since address, and recent scandals involving the GSA and the Secret Service have called into question whether government works.
On Sunday’s “Meet the Press” on NBC, liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne acknowledged that these scandals are problematic for the progressive/liberal cause. But, he said, in the case of the Secret Service, a 2002 incident showed that a discussion about the agency was long overdue.
“The Secret Service thing in particular, on the one hand we should never forget, yes, these are people willing to die for the president,” Dionne said. “On the other hand, I thought it was very interesting. As you pointed out earlier, there was a story 10 years ago in U.S. News and, and that story sounds awfully similar except without the sexy details that we now know now about dysfunction in the Secret Service. Why weren’t we on it then? Why wasn’t there a scandal and a discussion then?”
But the larger point, according to Dionne, was that all this perceived dysfunction in government puts the ability of government to solve problems in doubt.
“But I think it’s really bad for progressives, liberals, when any of these scandals come out,” Dionne said. “Because progressives and liberals are people who say based on history, government can accomplish great things. And paradoxically, I think these scandals hurt the progressive side of politics more because they feed this doubt that the public has. And I think the task of people who are on that side of politics say no, we can fix government and make it work and do good things. So, I think this undercuts part of the progressive argument.”