I suspect that the misunderstanding has been developing over decades and is related to both the ease of focusing on one individual (the President) and a persistent embrace of authoritarianism that so often characterizes our culture.
We seem to have developed the thinking that it is the President's job to pass legislation and completely ignored the importance of good government being affected by how legislation is implemented.
As an example, the entire media and blogosphere were completely absorbed in the efforts to pass health care reform and the legislation was ultimately seen as belonging to the President...hence, Obamacare. But how much ink has been spent on the work Secretary Sebelius and HHS have done to address the myriads of questions left unanswered in the bill about how it will be implemented? Very little. And yet that is the major job of the President and his administration.
We seem to focus on the effectiveness of an administration only when national problems arise. The most stark example of this was the Bush administration's handling of Katrina. When the federal government was needed to deal with that disaster - we got a good glimpse of just how poorly FEMA had been staffed and was being run.
I was reminded of all this with the great news yesterday from the administration about using prosecutorial discretion when it comes to deporting those who are in the country illegally.
The Obama administration announced Thursday that it would suspend deportation proceedings against many illegal immigrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety.
The new policy is expected to help thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as young children, graduated from high school and want to go on to college or serve in the armed forces.
White House and immigration officials said they would exercise “prosecutorial discretion” to focus enforcement efforts on cases involving criminals and people who have flagrantly violated immigration laws.
While Congress has not been able to pass The Dream Act or comprehensive immigration reform, the administration is taking responsible steps like this - as well as challenging draconian measures passed by a couple of states regarding immigrants.
I suspect that the assumption of the President as the primary legislator is going to be a permanent feature of how we see our political system. But as pragmatists, we could all do better at following Linda's lead over at What is Working to highlight the successes of the President and his administration in effectively accomplishing their primary responsibility...implementing good government.