Apparently, Doug Thompson has caught some flak for a previous column in which he reported that President Bush “called the Constitution ‘just a goddamned piece of paper.'” He defends the report in his Rant, while simultaneously rejecting calls for impeachment, saying “He’s not the first President to consider the Constitution an expendable document and he won’t be the last. Most Presidents have complained that the Constitution gets in their way.”
The trouble is in a pattern of viewing the Constitution as an outdated document. Presidents claim Congress can’t act fast enough to declare war, for example, yet in the last declared war, Congress declared war within four days of the Pearl Harbor bombing, while it has taken weeks, months, and even years to prepare for the Persian Gulf War, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the invasion of Iraq. Michael Dorf explains that “once troops are in the field under enemy fire, Congress can only block such action at the cost of endangering those troops and potentially undermining the national interest. Yet Congress is virtually powerless to prevent the President from using military force in the first place.”
It is a fatal logic. “Although the Constitution gives Congress the exclusive power to ‘declare’ war, that wording doesn’t mean the president needs to consult Congress to ‘make war’ or ‘commence war,’ [UC Berkeley law professor John] Yoo’s book [The Powers of War and Peace] says.” Yoo also argues “that the Bush administration has the right to hold ‘enemy combatants’ indefinitely without charges, and question them without a lawyer present.”
The Bush Administration has also used the outdated document logic in demanding the PATRIOT Act. Human rights, it seems, place human lives in jeopardy. This is not, however, a new argument. Benjamin Franklin said, “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.”
Franklin could have been talking about Bush. And Bush, who has killed thousands of American soldiers, more troops from the “Coalition of the Willing,” and possibly hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, in a war launched on false pretenses, is certainly guilty of the high crimes and misdemeanors that deserve impeachment.