Who’s “President?”

I’d love to put up an approval poll for this week, but I’m not sure who to ask you about. Roslin’s presidency was “terminated,” but does that include the entire executive branch? If so, then I suppose we should be voting on our approval of Tigh. If not, I suppose Baltar is president and we should be voting about him.

What do you think? Who’s in charge — both legally and practically?

26 Responses to "Who’s “President?”"
  1. Pike says:

    Wow, I forgot about this inter-regnum. It’s definately Tigh-time.

  2. The Alpaca Herder says:

    Tigh. Baltar was still running amuck on Kobol until Fragged. Tigh declared Martial Law during Fragged before Baltar was rescued. Tigh was the only authority in the Fleet from Adama being shot by Boomer in Kobol’s Last Gleaming Part 2 until Adama got out of the hospital bed in Fragged.

    For season 2 I think the breakdown might work out this way:

    Scatterd to Resistance: Tigh
    The Farm to Home, Part 2: Adama (He’s leading the bulk of the Fleet while Roslin plays counter-coup plotter with Apollo and Zarek)
    Final Cut to Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 1: Roslin

    Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2, is the toss-up. Roslin and Baltar are both in charge at differing points. Both have big decisions to make that have an impact.

  3. Nick B says:

    I guess it depends whether or not we accept the legitimacy of the coup against Roslin. If not, we can carry voting for her in the approval rating, on the basis that she’s still the president, albeit in exile. And note that Lee and the religiously-inclined guard continue to refer to Roslin as “Madam President”

    I’m not sure that a vote on Tigh would be very illuminating once we’re into S2. He might be a complex character, but his brief period in charge of the fleet was pretty straightforwardly disastrous.

    Maybe each week we should be voting on the democratically elected president and on the whoever is in charge of the military.

  4. Armando says:

    If we were talking about this situation in the real world, I don’t think we’d be worried about approval polls. We’d be among the crowds of protesters like the ones who got shot at on the Gideon. I think, therefore, a poll is meaningless. I think some revolutionary slogans (slogans for Hogan?) would be more appropriate.

    ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

  5. Gray says:

    I supppose that the coup is legitimate, if for no other reason than that the Adama side has been up until this point and will remain until the Roslin-Adama reconciliation, the most powerful side. I don’t agree with it. And in a rare moment of sympathy for Lee, I agree with him. You can’t sacrifice democracy because bad choices are made. You hang on a wait for the chance to fix it.

    I do think Adama could have waited, or gone about it more subtly. I don’t think he would have had too much trouble garnering support for a call for her resignation. I don’t think Roslin would go willingly at first but she might when confronted with overwhelming opposition. Or maybe not.

    Adama’s timing sucked, yes. But he didn’t know it was the SEASON FINALE.

  6. Tanu says:

    Perhaps this week’s poll should be whether or not the coup against the president is legit.

  7. Fieri says:

    No coup is ever legit in a Constitutional Republic like ours or the Colonial one. Adama was completely in the wrong, in my humble opinion. =D

    If the President had physcially stolen the Raider herself, there might be a case here. But as it is, she merely talked to an military officer (presumably off-duty).

    Additionally, Adama is guilty of misleading the public, which one could argue that Roslin is punishing by taking control of some of the military resources.

    So I think Roslin is still President.

    This is all based on my very ideological opinion that no matter what happens, the most important thing is always to preserve due process. Even when your society’s population is reduced one million fold, you cannot use that as an excuse for tyranny. Remember Hitler: “Let’s get rid of this pesky Chancellorship for a while…just while we deal with the Polish terrorist threat…”

  8. Tanu says:

    good point Fieri. maybe then it should be, which side do you approve of – coup or president.

  9. Stroogie says:

    I agree with many of the above that the coup was not legitimate. Adama and Roslin made an unofficial, spoken-word deal that they would not interfere in each other’s business, but as far as we know, it wasn’t a legally binding contract or anything. Roslin went back on her word, and that pissed Adama off; when Dee calls him on it in “Home, Part 1”, he realizes the whole coup has only happened due to his grudge against Roslin, and not for any good or legal reason. But Gray’s right: without the coup, we have no exciting season finale, and that wouldn’t make any of us happy, would it?

    It’s also weird that the Colonial President has no Commander-in-Chief authority. I know someone’s commented on that before.

    I say, along with the rest of the Resistance, that Roslin is still Madame President, whatever Adama or Tigh are up to. President-in-Exile, maybe, but still President.

  10. IceCap says:

    Adama is wrong and I suspect is acting against their Articles of Colonization, which I expect the military leaders swear to uphold.

    I think Roslin is still President and is Commander-in-Chief (as proof she later promotes Adama to Admiral in season 2) so the coup is illegal. Having said that her actions might also not be legal (Starbuck = Oliver North?) but I would expect the Quorum of Twelve as having the power to judge/ censure/ impeach. As Laura is also the presiding officer of the Quorum this might be a problem…

    Maybe a more appropriate question should be: In light of this crisis, do you think the Roslin administration has done enough to establish a functioning democratic government?

  11. Fieri says:

    “good point Fieri. maybe then it should be, which side do you approve of – coup or president.”

    President. Coups are never the way to remove a government. If the government is to be violently overthrown (say, if it has suspended or made null all other means of effecting democratic change), then it should be civilians, not the military, who do the deed.

    “Maybe a more appropriate question should be: In light of this crisis, do you think the Roslin administration has done enough to establish a functioning democratic government?”

    I think so. She set up a representative republic (albeit when forced to by Zarek) in the form of the Quorum. Until later on, of course, when she assumes dictatorial powers.

  12. Ty-the-Giant says:

    Was Caprica a Bannana Republic?

    What surprises me is how easily the desision to remove the presedent seems to have been. I don’t mean that it was taken lightly but it does not seem like it was an unpresedented desision.

    The talk between the military and the president was at the level of, “please don’t do this… don’t make him do this” At no time did anyone say “The military has no right to terminate the presidency… or if the presidency is terminated that the running of the government automatically reverts back to the 12.” (In the United States if the President and VicePresident were killed, missing, impeached… the Speaker of the House would be the next in line, not the hightest ranking military officer (Head of the Joint Chief of Staff?)

    So there never seemed to be any legal disscusion about the Articalality as to why this should not happen. Even Lee seems to be just following his gut, not giving a legal reason.

    I am left with the impression that Caprican history is more like that of some south american countries or the Roman Republic… which is to say, a democracy most of the time, but it is not unheard of for the military to step in.

  13. Pike says:

    C.f. Turkey.

  14. Leon Kensington says:

    I think we need a “Do you support the current military governing body?” poll.

  15. Hybrid Master says:

    Hi everyone!

    Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Roslin like 43rd in line for the presidency when she assumed the office? It would seem that even after she and Baltar were out of the picture there would be a long line of people and process to be gone through before one could say the government couldn’t function – unless said chain of command wasn’t put into place after the Qo12 was created…..maybe we just don’t know enough to make that call…

    At any rate, it would have been the Qo12 responsibility to enact that – not Tigh’s to make sure they did their job. And, where the frak was Lampkin to defend Laura when she needed it?!

    I really like the above comment comparing the Colonial government to a banana republic. Very interesting idea to ponder, and puts a whole new light on what kind of democracy these people actually have.

  16. IceCap says:

    “Very interesting idea to ponder, and puts a whole new light on what kind of democracy these people actually have.”

    I think we’ve had hints of civil strife and repression in the colonies (such as President Adar’s response to the teacher’s strike, the poverty on Aerelon, or the treatment of the Sagittarons) but overall we are to believe their government was a representative democracy with a written constitution (the Articles of Colonization). The constitution established the offices of government (let’s say its executive, legislative and judicial branches), placed limits on the powers of that government and granted democratic and legal rights to colonial citizens.

    Then the Cylons attacked and destroyed most of the government and most of the people. Which brings us to what I think is a central theme in BSG: in a world in which attack seems eminent are there some lines you do not cross?

    Or as Athena put it, “You said that humanity never asked itself why it deserved to survive. Maybe you don’t.”

    My problem with Roslin is that she got rid of the constitution when she made the power sharing agreement with Adama soon after Ragnar Anchorage. She has since governed by executive order and has only partly restored the (now anaemic) legislative branch (Qo12). That’s not good enough if your legitimacy rests solely on the constitution you’re ignoring.

    Perhaps her bigger mistake was not calling a constitutional conference during the first Qo12 meeting in “Colonial Day” to legitimize a new power structure. This would have been much more useful then electing Baltar as VP and the new (real) constitution could have been used against him at his trial.

    Don’t get me wrong I like Laura as a person. It’s the people who follow her and the potential for the abuse of power I’m worried about…

    Or as Thomas Jefferson said “Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

    I guess he saw season 3 coming because I can’t think of any real world examples…


    (P.S. Sorry for the long post)

  17. Mike P says:

    IceCap — A very interesting post. The Jefferson quote is right on target. (“Stay on target… stay on target… !” Ahem, sorry.) I think you are perhaps right that Roslin could have benefitted from calling a new constitutional convention; on the other hand, I’m not so sure, as you are, that the power-sharing agreement with Adama throws out the constitution. After all, Roslin herself is the legitimate successor to the administration, as defined by the Articles of Colonization (albeit 43rd or something in line); and, as other post-ers around here have pointed out, we have never seen the text of the Articles, so we don’t exactly know what the relationship between the civilian government and the military service is. It is possible to read Roslin and Adama’s conversation in the mini as an explicit affirmation that things will continue as before, with decision-making divvied up (although I will admit I don’t think this is too likely).

    Good points, and a lot to think about, but I think we are supposed to view Roslin as the constitutionally legitimate government throughout season 1 — else, Zarek’s comments in “Colonial Day” (or is it “Bastille Day”?) lose some of their force, at least as I hear them. “Who voted for Laura Roslin?” Well, Zarek is right, no one did — but, God forbid, terrorists should strike D.C. tomorrow, we might end up with someone in the Oval Office whom nobody voted for, but who is nonetheless legitimate under the Constitution. Heck, this was the case with Gerald Ford, come to think of it. Nobody voted for him (except in Senate races), and yet, he took the reins of power just as the Constitution called for when the time came.

    I agree with your assessment that what lines to cross and when is a central theme of the show. I seem to be alone in my opinion that Lee’s closing speech in “Crossroads II,” while powerful, was a frakking load of baloney. Of *course* the rag-tag fleet is still a civilization. As I’ve said before, only a civilization would even think to ask the question. The reason “illegal” mercy and slate-wiping have been performed is because “the letter kills, but the spirit gives life” — i.e., the fleet has had to go beyond the law in order to adhere to a higher law, which allows forgiveness, which allows life to continue — and which may well be the proof, in the context of the series, that the human race deserves to continue to exist. They are still civilized, and they prove it by being able to rise above the law in life-giving ways when circumstances demand.

    Do the Cylons have a concept of mercy?

    Well, that’s for another thread. That’s enough from me for now. 🙂

  18. 13th Cylon says:

    Tigh is in charge. He was following the orders of his superior that person would soon get pumped with lead, leaving ol’ Two Eyes in charge. I do think that Roslin was out of line with what she did. The Raider was a military asset and she basically steals it. I understand why she did it, but she should’ve gone to the Quorum (does that even exist anymore?) first.

  19. Hybrid Master says:

    I have to say, the more I think about this situation, the muddier it gets in my mind. I’m just not sure we can assume that there are 3 branches of government like here on Earth. Also, and this might seem strange or just stupid, but were there warring factions or the like? There must have been a history or the threat of succession or civil war or something to require the military. If there was a Battlestar for each colony, what were they protecting against, or was it to insure adherence to the laws?

    I wish RDM, during this big break, would come up with a plausible BSG Universe history – nothing fancy, just the basics. How else are we supposed to compulsively obsess over all of this, especially in the middle of the night?!

    Something else has also been coming to the surface for me around all of this – remember during the mini-series when Caprica Six first tells Baltar about who she really is, and he gets worried about being seen as a traitor, and he says – being found as a traitor is punishable by death. Now, that’s a harsh sentence. Does this illude to something deeper within the society/culture/political power structure?

    I am coming to my own personal conclusion that Roslin made a bad move with the cylon raidor and Starbuck. At first I was in agreement, but the more I’ve thought about it, I just think that she could have diplomatically done it a lot better. If she just would have come clean with the Qo12 to begin with, which she would have had to do eventually anyway to get people to follow her to Earth, then there would have been another political road to go down.

  20. The Alpaca Herder says:

    Hybrid Master wrote: “If she just would have come clean with the Qo12 to begin with, which she would have had to do eventually anyway to get people to follow her to Earth, then there would have been another political road to go down.”

    While such could be war-gamed I just don’t think it could fit within the cycle of time paradigm. If all this has happened before and all this will happen again with all the references to a “dying leader” I just don’t think the diplomatic route would have been possible. With the Chamalla doing strange things to Roslin’s brain it almost looks as if this whole route would be foreordained. There does seem to be an inexorable pull towards this whole course of action that even if you changed the outcome of one or two events it probably still would turn out this way.

  21. Stroogie says:

    That’s the best argument against Lee’s speech I’ve heard. I too thought it was powerful, but something about it still bugged me. I couldn’t put my finger on it till now.
    Part of BSG is that all the characters are so frakked up that without a little mercy, none of the human race would still be around. And maybe our capacity to forgive instead of condemn, to move on instead of to wallow, does make us worhty of survival.

    Baltar, meanwhile, is just so unrelentlessly selfish and cowardly and unrepentant about it, that of course the others would want to airlock him. And out into space with him, as Lee pointed out, would go all the things they hated about themselves, all the mistakes they’ve made that they’ve had to live with and can’t shake from their memories, personified in this one hateable (a word? is now) man. Who kinda looks like Jesus.

    I really wondered at that point if the whole bearded and white robed Baltar motif was a purposeful one.

  22. Hybrid Master says:

    Stroogle – love your airlock Baltar argument – Could we say that Baltar is to the fleet what Tigh’s lost eye was to his soul? Everything that was weak was taken away when it was ripped out – little did the cylons know what they were doing! 🙂

    Personally, when Baltar was in that lost and hopeless space, he seemed the closest to redemption and truth of purpose that he ever has. I also can’t help remember the Pegasus episodes when he connected with Gina in a very real way. There’s more to him than just the weasly crap, a lot more, but most of the time his fear, ego, and quite frankly head Six, stands between him and his whole self.

  23. Mike P says:

    Thanks, Stroogie, glad you concur. I hope Lee’s speech will be revisited in season 4 — maybe after he and Adama reconcile (I assume they will), dear ol’ Dad will be able to tell him something along the lines of, “I really admired your conviction, and we did the right thing in sparing Baltar — but, by the way, your argument was still full of craaaaaaaap.” Well, I guess that would have to be Tigh saying it, but…!

  24. Matt says:

    Practically Tigh is in charge, but legally I believe Roslin is still the President. Since Tigh was executing an illegal order, an order in violation of the articles of colonization, to terminate the Roslin presidency from Adama, it negates any type of legality to his and Adama’s coup.

  25. Doc says:

    Commander Adama fraked up by the numbers on this one. First, he conducted a coup against the legal government of the Colonies. Even though Roslin wasn’t elected she succeeded to the Presidency legally under the emergency continuation of government act (or whatever it was called in the miniseries). If the Colonial government is arranged like that of the United States and the President is in fact the Commander-in-Chief, then Roslin did nothing wrong in asking a serving military officer to volunteer to conduct a dangerous mission.

    Second, Adama had been lying to everyone all along about knowing the location of Earth. Granted, he did it with good intentions, but it finally caught up to him. (A perfect example of why lying is always a bad idea.) Kara was undecided on what she was going to do until she realized that Adama had been lying to everyone the whole time.

    Third, Adama not only ordered the coup but he wallowed in it and embraced it. You can really see this when he is trying to shame Lee by his praise of Boomer. Lee’s actions on Colonial One, though perhaps not the proper way to respond to illegal orders, make sense given how well he knows his father. Lee should have refused to participate in the coup and perhaps even have ordered the arrest of Tigh and his father. Lee was aware, though, that doing so would have only landed him in the brig with no further chance to act (or put up against the wall and shot).

    Fourth (and the worst in my mind), Adama placed Tigh in a position to take charge of the Colonies if he were somehow incapacitated. Adama knows that Tigh isn’t exactly the most stable member of his crew, particularly with the return of Ellen, and shouldn’t be trusted with something as complex as running the government. Frankly, I have despised Col. Tigh since the miniseries. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great character and I love Michael Hogan, but Tigh has no business being in the military. He’s great at accomplishing straight-forward tasks, but anything that drifts even a little outside the box seems to be beyond him.

    Finally, Adama let himself get shot. Yes, I said let himself get shot. What was he thinking letting an armed junior officer into CIC in the first place? They’ve known for a while now that the Cylons can mimic humans and they suspect the existence of sleeper agents since they’ve had Baltar testing everyone. The only people that should be armed are the Marines and senior officers and they should be armed at all times.

    I lost a great deal of respect for Adama at this point. He gained most of it back when he put the fleet back together (and then lost it again when he ordered Cally shot). I would say that Adama’s biggest problem is that he tends to respond to every problem with force. His idea of diplomacy is a right-cross to the head of his opponent. In my opinion, Lee’s ability to combine his father’s use of force with his own skills of negotiation and motavation give him the potential to be a much, much better leader than the Old Man.

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