Old Business: Dubai Ports
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is apparently proud of his party’s ability to employ racial hatred and fear to score political points against the Republicans. In a recent radio address, he bragged about how the Democrats blocked the Dubai Ports deal, a policy grounded solely on the proposition that all Arabs are created evil, and thus are a threat to our national security.
This was successful, of course, because the American people are all too eager to accept the proposition that all Arabs are created evil.
The effect of this will be to send a message to the Arab community that those who seek to work hard and establish friendly economic relationships with the United States will be punished for the fact that they are Arab. This will undoubtedly chill any attempt in the Arab community to form peaceful economic relationships with the United States. This, in turn, will feed the growth of those Arab institutions who would instead seek hostile political relationships.
New Business: Senator Frist
In response to Senator Feingold's (D - WI) call for a resolution to censure President Bush for suspending the 4th Amendment to Constitution, Senator Frist (R - TN) said that a time of war is no time to be criticizing the Commander in Chief.
The signal that it sends, that there is in any way a lack of support for our commander in chief who is leading us with a bold vision in a way that is making our homeland safer, is wrong.
Many political pundits suggest that Frist wants to be President.
If this is true, then Frist’s words and actions regarding Feingold’s resolution suggests that he wants to be an omnipotent wartime president with the power to ignore laws and rewrite the constitution at will, while asserting that dissent is the moral equivalent of treason.
Furthermore, he expects the Republican Party to back him up on this, thus expressing confidence that the Republican Party itself supports the idea of a nation where individual “rights” exist only at the pleasure of an omnipotent leader.
After all, the stand that he has taken on this issue is that it is disloyalty bordering on treason to say that the President does not have the right to suspend the 4th Amendment to the constitution and ignore the law that requires judicial review of wiretaps of American citizens. No conclusion can be drawn from this other than the fact that Frist thinks that the President has the power to suspend the Constitution and to ignore the law. If he believes this, then, if he gets elected President, he will no doubt be the type of President who will feel free to rewrite the Constitution and ignore the law, and call ‘treason’ towards any who would protest his actions.
The Moral Right of Criticism
It is simple nonsense to suggest that that any and all criticism of the President of the United States as Commander in Chief, and that all true Americans must goosestep behind the President no matter what he says and does.
To say that, under conditions C, it is wrong to criticize Person P, is the same as saying that "under C, P can do no wrong." Yet, it is absurd to suggest of any Person P that he can do no wrong. Some people may believe that President Bush is no mere mortal, but is instead a special gift from God that lacks the capacity for error. However, recent evidence suggests that this is a slight overestimate of Bush’s capabilities.
As I have argued previously, one does not “support the troops” by giving them an incompetent commanding officer and telling them that no criticism of that officer is permissible. One “supports the troops” by replacing incompetent commanders with competent commanders. This is only possible if it is permissible to say whether a commanding officer is competent or incompetent.
Of course, in times of crisis it is better to obey a less-good order than to debate it. The time wasted in debate over whether a particular choice is ideal can cost more than the difference between following a current worse option over the mere possibility of a better future option. This is why, in the military, once a superior officer gives an order, those under him are bound by duty to obey (with some exceptions).
However, there is nothing in this that implies that criticism is treason. No military officer is ever declared immune from criticism simply because he is an officer.
On this matter, Bush still answers to a higher authority -- the American people. Bush thinks that the only authority he answers to are the voices in his head that he mistakes for God. (Voices that are, in fact, nothing more than his own thoughts couched in the delusion that he is God.) As a matter of fact, as it says in the Constitution, “We the People of the United States of America” are the ultimate “Commanders-in-Chief” in this country. And if we, the true Commanders-in-Chief, decide that an underling is deserving of censure, then it is entirely within our right to order those we hire to begin censorship proceedings – and to dismiss any (such as Senator Frist) who refuse to follow our orders.
As I argued yesterday, Bush clearly deserves a reprimand. We hired him to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Instead, signed secret orders that placed suspended the Constitution he was told to defend and to place himself above the law. This would be the moral equivalent of a Lieutenant, ordered to defend a fort (Fort Constitution), instead signing secret orders making himself general and ordering the destruction of the fort he was told to defend.
Senator Frist is entirely out of line to be telling we, the people of the United States, that we must not censure an underling of ours who has violated our direct orders to defend the Constitution.
We see in Senator Frist’s words and deeds what we can expect from him if we were to give him the task of defending Fort Constitution from all who would attack it. He is telling us that we must agree to President Bush’s orders to destroy Fort Constitution, so we can only assume that he sees no value in its defense. If Frist were President, he would no doubt continue to assert that he had the same powers he is willing today to grant Bush – the power to ignore the law, rewrite the Constitution to suit his pleasure, and to regard criticism as the moral equivalent of treason.
Presidents do not take an oath to uphold and defend their own absolute and arbitrary power. They take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Somebody of Frist’s mindset would be incapable of upholding and defending the Constitution.
If he wants the job of defending the Constitution as President, he needs to show that he is willing to defend the Constitution as majority leader of the Senate.