Saturday, January 27, 2007

Kudos to Garry Wills, from whom excerpts follow (below):

We hear constantly now about ‘our commander in chief.’ The word has become a synonym for ‘president.’ It is said that we ‘elect a commander in chief.’ It is asked whether this or that candidate is ‘worthy to be our commander in chief.’ But the president is not … the commander in chief of civilians. … 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 must simply trust our lords and obey the commander in chief. … 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.”

To add, we’re also told that the United States is itself a “battleground” in the war on terrorism, to which the “war at home” is frequently alluded.

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