Executive Power

The Far Middle episode 97 is dedicated to the hockey force, Connor McDavid. While just eight years in the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers’ No. 97 has become the best player in the league today—challenging Nick’s settled view on the Mount Rushmore of hockey’s greatest players.

Nick moves from the hypothetical Mount Rushmore of hockey to the actual Mount Rushmore and two of its faces, former presidents Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Nick proceeds to describe Lincoln and Roosevelt’s similar views on wider U.S. presidential power during times of crisis. “The view of wide presidential power is a very dangerous, slippery slope,” Nick warns. He explains that he leans towards lesser presidential power rather than more.

Expanded executive power results in an attack from the whole of government on individual freedoms and free enterprise. Nick argues that this is exactly what’s happening with the current administration using the epically convenient global crisis of climate change to expand its influence.

The expanded power of the executive branch and administrative state would horrify the Founding Fathers, which leads Nick to a discussion on the trait of courage. Nick delves into the evolution of our system of checks and balances and says it’s time for the Supreme Court and Congress to start doing their jobs.

Meanwhile, a different evolution is happening in the arena of sports gambling in the U.S. today. Nick notes that last year Americans wagered nearly $94 billion on sports. He then comments on the industry’s advantage on live “prop betting.”

From Connor McDavid to U.S. presidents, driven individuals are a consistent theme of episode 97. Nick connects such individuals’ drive to the philosophical concept of “thymos,” the drive and pursuit for recognition. “Humans want others to recognize their individual significance,” Nick says. “Humans can never thrive while feeling emptiness in their soul.” Nick shares how thymos can be both positively and negatively impactful. And he explains why thymos is a necessary ingredient in any society that values the individual and that desires a high quality of life.

In closing, Nick celebrates the career of Clint Eastwood, an actor and director who harnessed his inner thymos for decades. Like many other Eastwood fans, Nick’s favorite Eastwood period was his Spaghetti Westerns. Nick concludes episode 97 with his recommendation for an underrated Eastwood movie you might not have seen. And separately, it’s worth noting—in another instance of The Far Middle’s unique connection web—Eastwood’s political thriller, “Absolute Power,” came out in 1997.