Saturday, May 26, 2007

He shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed

The title of this diary is a clause from Article. II, Section. 3 of the Constitution for the United States of America. This is a particularly apropos time to take a close look at the meaning of this clause. What are the real duties of the President of the United States? What are the real duties and responsibilities of the Congress of the United States? Why does this matter now more than ever?

The answers (?) to these and other questions are below the fold...

This clause bears repeating right at the outset
he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed
Article. II of the Constitution deals with
The executive Power
shall be vested in a President of the United States
It contains only four sections. This is in contrast to Article. I. dealing with
legislative Powers herein granted
which has ten sections.

Section. 8. deals with the powers of Congress. Among these are the power
To raise and support Armies, ...

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

So what is this diary really all about? Why is any of this at all important right now? Over at RockRidge Nation, George Lakoff and Glenn W. Smith have posted an important piece titled The Framers Got It Right: Congress is the Decider. In this piece Lakoff and Smith posit
Congress would find it easier to act courageously if the public understood the constitutional stakes. And that public understanding requires correct and persistent framing by Congress itself. What needs to have been framed — indeed what still needs to be framed — is Congress's constitutional responsibility and power to set the course on military missions like Iraq. (emphasis added)
To prove this point they quote David J. Barron of the Harvard Law School
Congress possesses substantial constitutional authority to regulate ongoing military operations and even to bring them to an end.
They also quote Louis Fisher, Constitutional Specialist, Library of Congress
The legislative judgment to take the country to war carries with it a duty throughout the conflict to decide that military force remains in the national interest...In the midst of war, there are no grounds for believing that the President's authority is superior to the collective judgment of its elected representatives. Congress has both the constitutional authority and the responsibility to retain control and recalibrate national policy whenever necessary.
Lakoff and Smith go on to argue
Congressional leaders have neglected to remind the nation what the Constitution says. They have allowed the president to reframe the Constitution, usurping their power for himself. The Framers framed it right. The Congress irresponsibly let the president reframe the Constitution.... Opponents of the president's Iraq policies should have framed the issue immediately when Democratic leaders took control in January 2007. The message should have been: Congress defines the strategic mission; the president's job is to carry it out. He is refusing to carry out his mission.
Lakoff and Smith point out the frames successfully used by the Bush administration that have made the Congress afraid to execute their powers. They also point out the framing traps that proponents of bringing the Iraq Occupation to an end should avoid. They also provide useful frames to help the public understand the true nature of the situation, including this
Progressives must point out that it is the president, with an enabling Congress, who commenced a foolhardy adventure with no clear exit strategy or way to "win." That same president has refused to properly prepare or adequately equip soldiers — and now he is blaming Congress. When Congress passed a supplemental spending bill with reasonable timetables attached, he refused it. The betrayer is the president. Say it over and over: The president has betrayed our troops and the nation.
This reminds me of something my good friend alonewolf has been saying. I am going to paraphrase what alonewolf says Congress and Democratic candidates should be saying about authorizing this misadventure in Iraq
We gave him the keys to the car. We didn't tell him to drive it into a ditch.
Like any parent whose child drives their car into a ditch, Congress should, no must, take away the keys to the car.

Read the Rockridge piece. They give some good ways where we can help to make that happen.

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