This article over at Science Blogs’ The Questionable Authority really brings home a point that I have been quietly making since the last days of 2001… that the President fundamentally misunderstands his primary role in American Government.
The rhetoric out of The White House constantly pounds the trope of the President as protector. That protection is a fundamental part of his job I do not question… what he’s supposed to be protecting is where we diverge. For some reason Mr. Bush believes that it is his solemn duty to protect the people of the United States from harm… not so. the protection of the people is provided for in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The President’s primary role and most solemn duty is to protect THAT document and its principles. Just look at the oath of office: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” There it is.
Without the rights provided to us by the Constitution our physical protection is rendered more or less meaningless. We enjoy life as Americans because we have the rights and freedoms necessary to engage in a fulfilling and humane way of life. We don’t have to worry that our religions or thoughts or ideas will land us in prison or limit our ability to travel at will. Take these things away or abridge them in any way and we cease to be free.
When The President authorizes and vigorously defends unconstitutional activity such as wire tapping it degrades the strength of the Constitution in profound ways. Through this abdication of his one true charge, the President is slowly killing the one thing that can truly protect the American public… and that may be his greatest failure.