Presidentialism and how the president has attained the stature of a rock star in the minds of many has been the subject of some recent articles. This adoration of the president as super-star is entirely misplaced. The fact is that any one of the citizens of the United States who shows such piss-in-your pants, bug-eyed, worshipful obeisance to the president actually outranks the president in the hierarchy of authority and power as set forth in the Constitution.
The Constitution says that we the people do ordain the Constitution. To ordain means to order by virtue of superior authority. We are that superior authority. We created the position of president. The president is subject to our creation. We are superior to the president. These people falling all over themselves around the president don’t know that.
We haven’t had a president I know of since Franklin Roosevelt, with maybe the exception of Truman, who could resist this adoration and not get a swelled head because of it. They encourage it and don’t act to refute it by just saying, “I work for you.” The people gather around and watch and listen in awe at the pronouncements of the president, projecting status underserved and unearned, hoping to get just a little bit closer and be included in that magnificent aura, hoping to pick up and be transformed by the magical, mystical emanations from this wonder of wonders, the president. They forget that this guy had dirty diapers just like they did.
In the highly unlikely event that George Bush were to come to my home, my sense of integrity and simple decency would not allow him to enter. I’m better than to have such a person violate the decency of my home. But, most would fawn, bow and scrape and tug their forelocks and be just tickled to death to have him in.
Only one of the reasons for my repugnance towards George Bush is his use of the Department of Justice as his personal lawyer, in violation of the Constitution, in violation of the Mission Statement of the Department of Justice, in violation of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that created the Office of the Attorney General, and in violation of the 1870 Act to Establish the Department of Justice.
The Department’s stated mission is “To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”
Never mind that the people of Canada, Mexico, and Tierra del Fuego are Americans. What they meant was the people of the United States.
Right off, we see that the Department is acting in direct contradiction to their own mission statement by acting as George Bush‘s personal lawyer. To enforce the law, they first have to know what the law is. That is first and foremost the Constitution. George Bush has the Department working for him in the courts, trying to get his illegal actions to suppress his other illegal actions suppressed, by trying to prevent his acolytes from testifying before Congress about his illegal actions. Judge Bates has said, no you can’t do that, there’s no law that says you can.
You see, George, here’s another guy who knows that the Constitution is not “just another goddam piece of paper,” as you have said it is.
Judge Bates is right. Apparently he’s read the Constitution, particularly Article II, Sections 2 and 3, which contain the precisely 324 words that set forth the presidents powers and duties. Nowhere in those 324 words is there mentioned that the president has the power to issue signing statements and the phrase “executive privilege” that he is claiming is among his powers and duties is not there among his powers and duties. Judge Bates, as anyone who can read English at the high school level, noticed that.
Not only is there no law that says George Bush can do these things, there is also a law that says he can’t. It’s Amendment X of the Constitution, which reads in it’s entirety: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” The power that George Bush is claiming, if it were even to exist, is reserved for you and me.
What that law says is that if it isn’t in those 324 words, the president can’t do it. Whatever it is. George Bush has drug the Department of Justice into trying to defend him in his extra-Constitutional acts and his extra-presidential acts. The Department has become an accomplice to his personal crimes.
The operating instructions for the very limited way the president is to run the United States are contained entirely in those 324 words, and no others. There’s nothing there that authorizes the president to run the military, unless called into service, which only Congress can do, to run the Department of Justice, or any of the other administrative offices of the government. They are set up to operate on their own. The president can’t tell them what to do. And, the most misused and abused phrase by George Bush, foreign policy, is not in those 324 words. Foreign policy is not within the president’s powers. Sorry, George, the law says that you can’t use war as a foreign policy and go rampaging around the world attacking who you damn well please.
Those 324 words need to be engraved on a solid brass plaque and nailed down right in the middle of the president’s desk. And each and every time he decides to do something, before he takes pen in hand or says a single word, he must first read those 324 words to see if he can. Every time.
Given the fact that you’re reading this, you have the most important qualification there is to be president. The simple ability to read 324 words and understand them. Were the Constitution to be followed by the president, we would have no worries or even any particular concern about who was president. The president isn’t required to and doesn’t need to have charisma, charm, eloquence, be a millionaire, be a war monger or be a war hero. Just about anyone can do it who can read and follow the instructions.