Jan 262007

Apparently the President still doesn’t get this Democracy/Constitution thing with the co-equal branches of government and checks and balances. Poor George has repeated his “I’m the Decider” declaration, amending it slightly to “I’m the decision-maker.”

Dear Mr. President:

We’ll make this simple. No, you’re not. In fact, according to the Constitution you don’t even get a vote.

Article I, Section 8 reads as follows: “The Congress shall have Power … To declare War … and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.” What part of “The Congress shall have power to declare war” don’t you understand? That’s a sincere question. We know you’re not much of a reader. We’ll all be happy to talk you through this if you like. (And be advised: They may revise your instructions regarding Iraq.)

Here’s something else you’ll find in Article I, Section 8: “The Congress shall have power … to make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.”

Declaring war? Making rules that govern and regulate the armed forces? That’s their job.

Now here’s your job. From Article II, Section 2: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” That’s a lot of responsibility. You have to carry out their decisions to the best of your ability. (Think of them as your Board of Directors.) As for executing their decisions on a day-to-day basis, you have as much leeway as they care to give you. You can even wear a flight suit on an aircraft carrier, although that’s not spelled out in the Constitution.

But here’s the deal: In order to keep the job you have to follow the rules. And the rules say Congress makes the decisions about matters of war. You command, they decide. Now do you want to follow the rules and obey the law or not?

Decide that. That will determine where you live and work for the next two years. Sure, it’s not as neat and orderly as a dictatorship – or as your Vice President prefers to call it, a “unitary executive.” But it’s the law. And, to quote the man you called the finest Defense Secretary ever: “Democracy is messy.” Deal with it.

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