McCain’s possible constitutional infirmity in the NY Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/us/politics/28mccain.html?_r=2&ei=5090&en=45d24e7c7a991183&ex=1361941200&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=print&adxnnlx=1204214504-GZVcGLcc6iuM6PWj5WsF4A

What I think is interesting about the article is the following statement:

 “Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and one of Mr. McCain’s closest allies, said it would be incomprehensible to him if the son of a military member born in a military station could not run for president.

“He was posted there on orders from the United States government,” Mr. Graham said of Mr. McCain’s father. “If that becomes a problem, we need to tell every military family that your kid can’t be president if they take an overseas assignment.” ”

My Comment:  It would have been basically incomprehensible to the Founding Fathers to have our troops taking extended overseas assignments with their wives.  Thus, Seantor Graham’s argument is entirely baseless.  The original intent of the Constitution is the question.

In short, those “orders from the United States Government” and those permanent military bases in foreign countries are unconstitutional.  In fact, the Constitution states:

The Congress shall have power to: 

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

(Note the difference between the navy – intended to protect our oceanic borders and the army – intended to fight ground warfare.)

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

(Note that the Militia – not the army – was to be used to repel invasions.)

One of the complaints againstr the King of England in the Declaration of Independence was:

“He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.”

James Madison, “The Father of the Constitution,” voiced his concern as well:

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

Thomas Jefferson not only included standing armies in the Declaration of Independence as a component of British tyranny, he likewise despairingly described them elsewhere:

There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation and which place them so totally at the mercy of their governors that those governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such instruments on foot but in well-defined cases. Such an instrument is a standing army.

Were armies to be raised whenever a speck of war is visible in our horizon, we never should have been without them. Our resources would have been exhausted on dangers which have never happened, instead of being reserved for what is really to take place.

Nor is it conceived needful or safe that a standing army should be kept up in time of peace.

And finally, George Washington on foreign entanglements:

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?  . . .

. . . Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

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Published in: on February 28, 2008 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

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