Preemptive Suit?

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Let’s assume you are an elderly gentleman, rather frail, whose wife is seriously ill with hard-to-control diabetes. You do not feel capable of providing her with proper care, and decide to hire a nurse to look after her, at least during the day.

The first candidate you interview has excellent credentials in most respects, but thinks it is a waste of time to check the patient’s blood sugar frequently. She believes that diabetics suffer enough, and should be allowed to indulge themselves with candy and cookies ad lib. She regards meticulous care of the feet as foolishness, and encourages her patients to remain in bed most of the time. Would you hire her, knowing her beliefs, with the expectation that if your wife’s condition worsened under her care, you could always hire another nurse? I don’t think so.

But this is the way we hire presidents. We give the job to someone who tells us in advance he isn’t going to do his job properly.

That job is simple enough. The president’s duties are few and not onerous. In performing them, he must "preserve, protect, and defend" the Constitution. But we know in advance that he will not, despite the oath he has taken to do exactly that. It has been that way throughout my lifetime, and probably before that.

In her speech urging her delegates to support Obama, Mrs. Clinton repeatedly referred to one of her pet themes: universal health care. She indicated that Obama shared her passion for such a program. But government-sponsored health care is provided by coercion, as are all government "benefits," and, in any event, is not supported by any hint of Constitutional authority. While Senator McCain was not as enthusiastic about universal health coverage as his Democratic opponents, he did not oppose government-regulated medicine.

He also supports the war in Iraq, and opposes any timetable for withdrawal. The fact that only Congress can declare war, and hasn’t declared war on Iraq, or anyone else, for that matter, doesn’t bother him, or his opponent. It’s just another one of those constitutional anachronisms that are ignored as irrelevant in the 21st century.

Both candidates appeared before the pro-Israel lobbying organization, AIPAC, and groveled suitably. All expressed their support for Israel, and their willingness to guarantee its freedom. (Of course, their guarantee of protection, should it be acted upon, would put the lives of young Americans at jeopardy in Israel’s defense. The president, rest assured, would not be in the front lines.) Is there some section of the Constitution that authorizes the United States to send Americans to fight for a foreign power? If so, I’ve missed it. For that matter, what is the Constitutional justification for the American troops stationed in about one hundred and thirty five countries around the world? Have any of the major candidates planned to bring them home?

Is there such a thing as a pre-emptive strike against perjury? I guess not. We need to wait until the oath is taken falsely before bringing suit. But since it is utterly clear that President-elect Obama has no intention of paying the slightest attention to the Constitution that he will swear to uphold, maybe we could prepare the necessary papers in advance. If the U.S. can bomb nations because of a perceived possible threat that they might present in the future, can’t we at least prepare to sue for perjury that is definitely going to be committed?

Ah, but that’s a pipedream. If we are willing to vote for and elect people who have made it clear in advance that they will violate their oath of office, then we evidently don’t take that oath any more seriously than they do, or we are as ignorant of the Constitution as they are. In the example we gave above, you wouldn’t hire a nurse who explained beforehand that she didn’t believe in proper care of the patient, although she would at least admit that the patient existed. But candidates who intend to pay no heed to the Constitution give the impression they are not even aware of the existence, except perhaps in some vague historical sense, of that document. True, they will swear to adhere to it, but like "till death do us part," in another archaic ritual, nobody — well, almost nobody — actually means it. The presidential swearing-in ceremony is just that: a ceremony. A great photo-op, suggesting a link with tradition that does not, in fact, exist.

If we must have government, it should at least be constitutional. We get what we deserve when we support candidates who hold it in contempt. In doing so, they hold US in contempt. But we already knew that, or should. When Senator Obama places his hand on the Bible and swears to "preserve, protect, and defend" the Constitution of the United States, he will be lying. That’s nothing new, but it’s getting tiresome. How about a pre-emptive perjury indictment?

Dr. Hein [send him mail] is author of All Work & No Pay, which is out of print, but may occasionally be obtained on eBay.

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