It was a phrase Bush would repeat many times in the days following the attacks. Being considered a wartime President is important to him. It allows him to justify, at least in his own mind, the actions he has taken over the last five years.
Play close attention to Bushs speeches and words and you see this obsession with being a wartime President. Whenever he wants to justify an action that pushes the envelope he refers to himself as the commander in chief, not the President. In Bushs world, being commander in chief gives him greater latitude in pursuing actions that may or may not be legal.
Im the commander in chief, he told Congressional leaders at a recent White House meeting. Do it may way.
This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives, Bush said in his Saturday radio address address. The American people expect me to do everything in my power to protect them and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States,
To fight the war on terror, I am using authority vested in me by Congress, including the Joint Authorization for Use of Military Force, which passed overwhelmingly in the first week after September the 11th. I'm also using constitutional authority vested in me as Commander-in-Chief, Bush said.
We saw the same thing in Richard Nixon, says retired political scientist George Harleigh, who served in the Nixon administration. When he wanted to appear strong, he would call himself the commander in chief. When he wanted to appear to be one of the people, he was your president.
In Bushs mind, his role as President is limited by the constitution, the same constitution that he feels gives him greater authority as commander-in-chief so he can do everything in my power.
The question that must be resolved in coming weeks, in probes demanded by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, is whether or not President Bush exceeded everything in my power when he authorized both the Pentagon and the National Security Agency to spy on American citizens.
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