Monday, November 3, 2008

Dear Senator Biden

As Glenn Greenwald relates, you made a speech in Kettering, Ohio, in which you said this:

"Ladies and gentlemen, we need to move past the politics of division and attack," the Democratic vice-presidential nominee told a crowd of 2000 in Kettering. "Over the past week, Republicans have gone way over the top in my view, calling Barack Obama every name in the book, and it probably will get worse in the next three and a half to four days."

"Well look, if you look at who he is, what he's done, and what he plans to do for this country, if you work for us in the closing days and choose hope over fear," Biden urged supporters, "after next Tuesday, the very critics he has now and the rest of America will be calling him something else - they will be calling him the 44th president of the United States of America, our commander in chief Barack Obama!"

Biden: Come Tuesday, Obama's Critics Will Be Calling Him Commander-In-Chief

[emphasis added]

I've been a critic of Obama's at times. I've also found reason to praise him on occasion. I'll vote for him tomorrow. So, I suppose I could also be considered a supporter. Either way, I'm not going to be referring to him as "our commander in chief".

You see, he's not going to be our commander in chief. As Greenwald puts it:

"[C]ommander in chief" is a military term, which reflects the core military dynamic: superiors issue orders which subordinates obey. That isn't supposed to be the relationship between the U.S. President and civilian American citizens, but because the mindless phrase "our commander in chief" has become interchangeable with "the President," that is exactly the attribute -- supreme, unquestionable authority in all arenas -- which has increasingly come to define the power of the President. Recall the explanation by GOP Sen. Kit Bond in June when explaining why telecoms should be immunized for lawbreaking after being "directed" by George Bush to allow illegal government spying on their customers:

I'm not here to say that the government is always right, but when the government tells you to do something, I'm sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do.

The Single Worst Expression In American Politics

As usual, he's right about this. Obama won't be our commander, any more than President Bush is our commander. It says so right here in the Constitution:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

Constitution of the United States (Article II, Section 2)

See? Only the military has to call him "Commander In Chief". The rest of us call him something else: our employee.

After thirty years in the Senate, I'd think you'd have caught on to that by now.

So please, follow Glenn's advice and stop using this ridiculous terminology. It's not correct, and it certainly doesn't strike me as democratic.

No comments: