October 19th, 2010 | Uncategorized

Bruce Ackerman LAW ’67: ha ha?

Bruce Ackerman LAW ’67, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, is getting laughed at. Or at least his theories are.

Ackerman’s new book “The Decline and Fall of the American Republic” about he power of the Executive branch was reviewed in the online magazine The Rumpus Tuesday. (The Rumpus is not to be confused with Yale’s Rumpus).

Twice the reviewer Bezalel Stern uses the phrase “ha ha.” For instance:

The power of the Executive was left (comparatively, at least) to its own devices. Ackerman posits that the reasoning behind this was that an out-of-control Executive could easily be reigned in by Congress or the courts.

To which a 21st century observer might respond: Ha ha.


My favorite suggestion, although perhaps the least workable one is something he calls “Deliberation Day.” A concept he co-invented with Jim Fishkin, about which Ackerman has written a previous book, “proposes a new national holiday held two weeks before presidential elections” in order to defeat the sound-bite media coverage that has come to dominate presidential campaigns. “Registered voters will be called to neighborhood meeting places to discuss the central issues raised by the campaign. Nobody would be forced to attend. But if tens of millions of citizens took up the invitation, it would radically change incentives for political professionals.”

To which a twenty-first century observer might respond: Ha ha.

Ha ha.

  • bezalel

    Ms. Zuckerman, in her above blog post, grossly mischaracterizes my review of Professor Ackerman’s book. Far from denigrating Ackerman’s theories, I actually conclude that the “fascinating book does an admirable job” of laying out potential threats “of the American Executive to the republic.”

    Both quotations above are taken very much out of context. The first quotation, for instance, is simply an explanation of how the present day Executive came to wield such great power. The twenty-first century observer’s shock in the face of the Founders’ trust in Congress and the courts is in fact nothing more than an elaboration of Ackerman’s very theory of the unitary Executive. To write that my rhetorical use of the twenty-first century observer is a criticism of Ackerman’s work could not be further from the truth, and exhibits, in the above interpreter, a surprising lack of cognitive reading skills.

    If Zuckerman had taken the time to read (or understand) my review, instead of choosing various money quotes from it, she might have come away with a very different piece. I urge you to, instead of reading the above bastardized version of my essay, take a look at [the real thing][1].

    [1]: http://therumpus.net/2010/10/he-the-people/#more-64159