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Book of Matthew: Don’t walk on the Constitution

Published: January 25, 2008
Section: Opinions

The problem with election season is that everyone is focusing on the presidential candidates, while ignoring the present administration. This is not a good time for that to happen, because President Bush has been quite ambitious in the last year of his presidency.

And yes, we should be wary of that ambition.

We have known for a long time that President Bush has taken many liberties with the Constitution throughout his terms in office, and it has always seemed like Congress and the Supreme Court have given him free reign. When the Democrats took back the House and Senate last year, I wondered if that would change. I wondered if Bush & Co. would slip up, and find themselves having to answer for it. I believe that such a situation has recently arisen, but unfortunately, I doubt I will get the result that I hope for.

It was during Senator Carl Levin’s speech on Monday that I learned about President Bush’s plan to negotiate a long-term partnership deal with Iraq. The Senate is strongly opposed to this, because Bush is acting on his own, without any legislative consent. Being the curious person that I am, I broke out my copy of the Constitution to check and see if the Senate actually has a legitimate complaint, and in Article II, Section 2, it reads:

He [the President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the senators present concur…

That seems fairly straightforward to me.

The Bush administration has, naturally, claimed that this agreement does not rise to a level of treaty that would require Senate confirmation, but when I read the terms of the agreement I see something quite different. It is a deal that will replace the UN Security Council mandate authorizing the US-led invasion of Iraq with a completely new agreement, one that will essentially force the next president to keep a certain number of troops stationed in the country (assuming, of course, that the next president chooses to obey the Constitution).

There is really no way that President Bush can legally make this deal, but for some reason, Congress does not want to take the action necessary to stop him. How do I know this? Well, during Senator Levin’s speech, he was asked about the possibility of President Bush being impeached. The Senator responded by saying that any attempt to impeach the president would be viewed as an attempt to get back at the Republicans for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I must admit that I am quite disappointed by this, because I thought that Congress was supposed to hold the Constitution in higher regard than public opinion.

You know, it doesn’t matter if impeachment looks like revenge, it doesn’t matter if it will be successful, and it doesn’t matter if Bush’s term is almost over. What matters is the important message that impeachment would send to the government and to the American people, that no president can extend his power beyond legal means.

So, if President Bush attempts to make his unilateral deal with Iraq, I call on Congress to impeach him for this breach of the Constitution. Its high time the legislative branch showed America that it still has a backbone.