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Saturday, January 27, 2007

The president is not my commander in chief.

In a Times op-ed today, historian Garry Wills shows how American presidents have militarized their office, leading Americans to forget that "the president is not our commander in chief":

The Constitution is clear on this: "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."

When Abraham Lincoln took actions based on military considerations, he gave himself the proper title, "commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States." That title is rarely — more like never — heard today. It is just "commander in chief," or even "commander in chief of the United States." This reflects the increasing militarization of our politics. The citizenry at large is now thought of as under military discipline. . . .

We used to take pride in civilian leadership of the military under the Constitution, a principle that George Washington embraced when he avoided military symbols at Mount Vernon. We are not led — or were not in the past — by caudillos.

("At ease, Mr President" [op-ed], Garry Wills, New York Times 1.27.07, reg req'd)

Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 27 January 2007 at 12:13 PM

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January 29, 2007 12:10 AM | Permalink for this comment

Philo: You dig up the facts, but your opinion / point isn't clear. Not all of us outside of Boston can read your intent. Shout it out, brother. Share the Love and the Erudition!

#2 Fan, Dano


January 29, 2007 07:59 AM | Permalink for this comment

Dano, thanks for your fanhood! (My readers will want to check out your new blogs.)

I'm so busy these days I seem to have run out of time to pontificate. My point is very simple: I'm a citizen of the United States, and its president is my president, but he is not "our commander in chief" unless we're serving in the armed forces. Just a small note of resistance to the media drumbeat celebrating the imperium.

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