Does Johnny Mac even know what job he is applying for?

by lestro

There is a particularly interesting McCain quote in a recent article about the proposal by former Secretaries of State Jim Baker and Warren Christopher to make changes to the 1973 War Powers Act:

In a Republican presidential debate last October, Senator John McCain, the likely Republican presidential candidate, said he would take military action without going to Congress first, “if the situation is that it requires immediate action to ensure the security of the United States of America.”

“That’s what you take your oath to do when you’re inaugurated as president,” Mr. McCain said.

Actually, no, Johnny. The President does not take an oath to protect the United States, but to protect the Constitution.

Here it is, direct from the document itself (Art. II, Sect. 1):

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

(*also note the lack of a “so help me God,” which was ad libbed by Washington at his first inauguration and has become a tradition, though not a requirement…)

Perhaps this is where the real problems arise. It seems our current President has absolutely forgotten his oath and it almost seems as if Johnny doesn’t even understand the job for which he is applying. The President’s job is to protect the Constitution, which protects the rights of the people, which is the actual purpose of government, according to the Declaration of Independence, the nation’s founding philosophical document.

Since the Constitution makes it abundantly clear that Congress declares war, it seems to me that the President should let the Congress handle it.

Actually, a look at how the military is supposed to work is a great metaphor for how the government is supposed to function. Congress declares war, but the President is Commander in Chief. What that means is that once Congress gives the military a goal to accomplish, it is the President’s duty to execute that policy.

Just like anything else, Congress is supposed to aim the gun, the President’s only job is to pull the trigger. The president is an executive, not a policy-maker. As executive, the President is supposed to enact the will of Congress – the people’s representatives, not try and bend Congress to his (or her) will.

As protector of the Constitution, the President is supposed to use his veto power to block laws that he believes are unconstitutional, not simply ones he doesn’t like or don’t fit with his ideology. Yes, the President can help set the agenda, but like in most cities, where the city council makes the laws, actual policy is supposed to be made by Congress.

The Founders made that pretty clear by not only making Congress section 1 of document, but by calling it “legislative” and the presidency “executive.” It’s tough to be clearer.

It was done that way specifically to avoid the type of Imperial Presidency we now have, something the Founders saw too much like a king.

Militarily, that to me means that when the representatives of the people decide to send the military somewhere, they should give the goals and the reasons and then the President makes that happen. It is NOT up to the President to decide those things, no matter what Dubya and Dick tell you…

It’s a subtle difference, but an important one.

The proposal put forth by Baker and Christopher is a pretty good plan, really, and would require the President to consult lawmakers before initiating any combat lasting longer than a week, as well as share all relevant intel with a group of Congressional leaders.

Sen. Obama weighed in on it, supporting the plan, but not committing, while the McCain camp did not comment.

But maybe we should be asking the candidates exactly what they view the role of the President to be. The last guy obviously doesn’t understand the job at all and more than ever it is important to make sure the next one does.

After all, these days such discussions are not just intellectual exercises but have honest-to-god real-world, life and death implications:

The question has arisen repeatedly in the context of the Iraq war. In 2002, President Bush sought and received Congressional authorization for military action to enforce United Nations weapons sanction. Since then, however, many members of Congress have claimed that he has exceeded that authority and have tried repeatedly to limit the scope of the war and impose a timetable for withdrawal of troops. All of those efforts have failed.

One Response to Does Johnny Mac even know what job he is applying for?

  1. Pingback: “Just Say No” to Sarah Palin « The Church of the Apocalyptic Kiwi

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: