A presidency worth celebrating

Reason
by Gene Healy

02/18/08

It’s common these days, especially after 9/11, to hear people call the president ‘our commander in chief’ — as if he’s the leader of society as a whole, rather than just the head of the U.S. military. But Washington didn’t go around calling himself everybody’s commander in chief. Most often he referred to himself as merely the ‘chief magistrate.’ And contrary to our contemporary George W., Washington didn’t think his authority as commander in chief meant he could break any law that he thought impinged on his ability to protect national security. Washington even doubted his ‘inherent power’ to launch offensive action against hostile Indian tribes. As he put it in 1793, ‘The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.’ Nor did Washington believe that it was the chief magistrate’s role to serve as ‘Tribune of the People,’ promising great works, and demanding the power to carry them out...

//www.reason.com/news/show/125034.html


Informant: Thomas L. Knapp



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