Thompson is saying a lot with out saying much. What some people don't
understand is that he is saying very important things - things that need to
be said. Instead of talking about abortion, gay marriage or some other
polarizing, hot-button issue, he has chosen to focus much of his time and
energy a much more important issue, specifically, restoring the roles and
responsibilities of the President, Congress and Supreme Court to those
defined by the Constitution.
Fred is big on Federalism. I, for one, am glad to finally hear a candidate
talk about this. I firmly believe it is the lack of respect towards and
adherence to the basic design of our government that is really at the heart
of many of our problems. To begin with, the President is not a king. Now,
many people would answer me by saying that they know this. If that's the
case, then why do they continue treat him like one? Why is every President
and candidate besieged by questions about issues over which the office of
the President has absolutely no authority?
Let's think about this. The <http://www.constitution.org/constit_.htm>
Constitution is very specific about the roles and responsibilities of the
three branches of our government. A President's word is by no means
absolute and is usually subject to the "advice and consent" of the Senate.
He/she alone does not have to power to raise or lower taxes, create or
overturn laws, declare war, peace or alliances or find people guilty of
crimes. A President may and, according to the Constitution, is expected to
make suggestions to Congress regarding budgets, taxes, laws and treaties.
Often, this happens on an almost daily basis, but at the very least, it is
Constitutionally required at the yearly State of the Union Address.
For things such as declaring war and appointing most federal officers
(cabinet members, judges, etc), he must basically ask permission. With
respect to military action, a President may take limited, immediate action
to defend America, its citizens or interests, or in retaliation for some
attack but a prolonged military engagement or war itself requires the
Senate's approval. So, what this boils down to is a job 90% of which
consists of suggesting, advising and asking permission. Only 10% of the
President's job is autocratic, such as the aforementioned limited military
action, granting reprieves and pardons, dismissing federal officers or
employees, or making temporary recess appointments to fill vacancies. For
the really big stuff, it's "mother, may I?"
So, why is the President held publicly accountable for poverty, inflation
and taxes when it's the House of Representatives that controls the money?
Why is he to blame for a war or lack of protracted action when the Senate
must approve of it? Why is the continued existence of a bad law or failure
to pass a new one assumed to be part of the President's job when it really
belongs in the hands of the Congress to create them or, in limited cases,
the Supreme Court to overturn them? Three groups are to blame: the public,
the press and the candidates.
Regardless of what these groups may actually know of the President's
responsibilities, by and large, they ignore it. Instead, they revert to the
sheep and shepherd mentality of one person in charge of all. Maybe it's
human nature to always want to follow a single leader. It sure makes it
easier to blame someone when things go wrong. But in the President's job
description, the words "official scapegoat" or the like don't appear
anywhere. Nevertheless, people whine and gripe, the press publishes and
editorializes, and candidates pander. As a result, we usually elect our
Presidents on promises they are completely impotent to uphold once in
The most important thing a citizen or candidate can do is to read the job
description of the office for which they are voting or running. If the
candidate is talking about things that don't relate or making promises they
can't guarantee, the voters should look for another candidate and the
candidate should look for another job. Fred Thompson has read the
President's job description. Now it's the voters' turns. Read the
Constitution and listen to the candidates. You'll be surprised how few
really know what is expected or allowed by the job for which they are
But, Fred does!