Mickey Edwards, 16-year Republican Congressman from Oklahoma, founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation and Princeton scholar, has found his contrary voice to the Bush?Cheney GOP late in life - but, oh boy, is it a clear one.
The decision to go to war...to send young Americans off to battle, knowing that some will die -- is the single most difficult choice any public official can be called upon to make. That is precisely why the nation's Founders, aware of the deadly wars of Europe, deliberately withheld from the executive branch the power to engage in war unless such action was expressly approved by the people themselves, through their representatives in Congress.It's been obvious to many of us for a very long time that the GOP had been taken over by people who would prefer that the people not rule. I'm glad to see more and more conservatives figuring that out for themselves in the last year of the Bush presidency. It might just help prevent a McSame presidency continuing Bush and Cheney's work.
Cheney told Raddatz that American war policy should not be affected by the views of the people. But that is precisely whose views should matter: It is the people who should decide whether the nation shall go to war. That is not a radical, or liberal, or unpatriotic idea. It is the very heart of America's constitutional system.
In Europe, before America's founding, there were rulers and their subjects. The Founders decided that in the United States there would be not subjects but citizens. Rulers tell their subjects what to do, but citizens tell their government what to do.
If Dick Cheney believes, as he obviously does, that the war in Iraq is vital to American interests, it is his job, and that of President Bush, to make the case with sufficient proof to win the necessary public support.
That is the difference between a strong president (one who leads) and a strong presidency (one in which ultimate power resides in the hands of a single person). Bush is officially America's "head of state," but he is not the head of government; he is the head of one branch of our government, and it's not the branch that decides on war and peace.
When the vice president dismisses public opposition to war with a simple "So?" he violates the single most important element in the American system of government: Here, the people rule.
Certainly McCain should be seen as going into the elections with all of his policies, along with his candidacy, already the lamest kind of ducks.