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Wednesday, June 27, 2007
What Say You?

Me? I like the Constitution. I think it is one of the greatest things ever written, and in the couple of centuries since it was put down, I have yet to see a nation anywhere on earth write a better founding document. It has been amended a few times, mostly to beneficial effect, although more idiotic proposals to "improve" it have been tossed around than I'd care to recall.

My guess is that most Americans, and even citizens of other countries can agree that it's a pretty superlative document. Flexible enough to give discretion to judges, while at the same time providing clear and sensible guidance. For example:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Is that clear enough for you? We understand that yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater endangers lives in a concrete way, so we file that under "inciting panic." Sensible. There is room for this sort of interpretation, and I'm confident that the founders understood and wanted it that way.

The Constitution also established that there would be three co-equal branches of government: The Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislative. No branch would be able to go rogue without being reined in. Article II even went so far as to define the specifics of the branches:

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term...No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

The 12th Amendment further clarified the requirements of office:

But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

The President is the head of the Executive branch. The Vice-President must meet all of the same requirements of office as the President, and has always been an obvious member of the Executive.

Until now.

Dick Cheney is now claiming that he, as VP, is not part of the Executive Branch of the US government. Because his duties include being president of the Senate in order to break tie votes once every couple of years, he has asserted that he is a member of the Legislative branch in order to skip out of a request for classified documents for archival purposes.

Please don't confuse this tactic with his repeated and nearly constant claims of executive privilege in order to avoid having to disclose information about policy meetings and the like. It might be easy to make that mistake, because the word "executive" appears in both "Executive branch" and "Executive privilege." Let me assure you that according to Mister Cheney, that is some sort of weird coincidence.

I just need to ask those who have defended the Vice President (an deliciously ironic title), what do you say now? How do you explain with a straight face this twisted perversion of the law? How do you defend this administration from so many egregious violations of our country's most sacred text? Can you honestly say that these men love our country? Can you possibly believe that what they do is in anyone's interest, save their own? And most curiously, why would you bother defending any of it?

Make me understand. Demonstrate that these many illegalities are somehow ethical. I don't want to believe that I live in a country being run by amoral criminals.

I will not leave. This is my country. I will not allow it to be changed to suit the whims of a short-sighted few. I would gladly stand before the entire country and shout these words:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Defend the Constitution.

Not the office of the President. Not even the country. The Constitution. America means nothing if these words are allowed to be rendered meaningless.

Your defense of these men is partisan, and it is small. This is not about party, agenda, or ideology. It is about liberty, freedom, and the right to know what our leaders are doing. To want or expect anything less is, to me, un-American.

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posted at 7:50 PM

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