Authorization For Use of United States Armed Forces

Let me suggest again that while we know that the PATRIOT Act was sitting on the shelf just waiting for an opportunity to be enrolled and passed into law, that the AUMF was waiting in the wings has received less consideration. But, if the interest in a “unitary executive” whose authority is above the law was real, then making the Commander-in-chief during wartime a constant was just as important a component of the re-establishment of the sovereignty of the term-limited presidency.

Richard Nixon, although he claimed that “when the President does it, it’s not illegal,” effectively subordinated his office to the Federal Tort Claims Act of 1947 by resigning, a precedent that has haunted the proponents of unfettered authority ever since. While some of us deplore the failure to prosecute Nixon, find him guilty and establish firmly in the law that the President may not order the commission of criminal acts, the supporters of “sovereign immunity,” the principle under which the sovereign can do no wrong, regret the resignation for the opposite reason. Sovereignty is of great importance to them and, while they most often claim it on behalf of the nation (e.g. as an excuse for not participating in the International Court), its real importance to them lies in the continuation of royal rule determined by ballot, rather than DNA.

President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama meet in the Oval Office of the White House (White House photo by Eric Draper - public domain)Republicans, you see, are royalists at heart. Even if they rejected a kingdom, the thought of empire makes their hearts swell, not because they aspire to dominate other foreign peoples, but because they value the pomp and circumstance which is designed to inspire and reward aspiring leaders. Punishment and reward are the two polls of Republican thinking, with capital punishment at one end and a rotating sovereign ruler at the other. Besides, since the Lord Jesus abjured an earthly kingdom, men setting up kingdoms on earth is clearly in God’s plan. Equality is for the after-life; order on earth requires a clear delineation of status.

Indeed, even the concept of original sin serves as a prompt to make men strive to better themselves and achieve social status. Original sin serves as a prerequisite for the hierarchical organization of society. Some men want to be superior, so they argue backwards towards a strategy to justify and achieve that. That all men are created equal is not something they want to hear and consider. Equality conflicts with superiority and superiority of achievement is meaningless to people who don’t/can’t do. Non-achievers just want to be superior. Because, to the binary brain, if they’re not superior, they’re inferior. And that’s unacceptable. On the other hand, original sin is beneficial in that it provides an excuse for some men dominating their fellow man. If man is evil, the it behooves other men to make him good.

How do we, whose hands are hinged backwards, make other men work for us? That’s the Cons’ conundrum.

Image: President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama meet in the Oval Office of the White House (White House photo by Eric Draper - public domain)

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."