The Constitution or Caesar?
As I type these words, the American tragedy known as Libby Gate is reaching its dénouement. The real tragedy of this sordid tale lies in the fact that so many of the actors failed to perceive the truth while the strands of complicity were being woven into a web that devoured them.
The betrayal of American trust exemplified by Libby Gate (nobody is supposed to be above the law in American jurisprudence) is a story that stretches back even further than the past three years of almost unparalleled hubris in American foreign policy. We have witnessed the inability of Congress to provide proper constitutional check on executive power and usurpations, thereby nurturing the growing cynicism among the American people about our political institutions. Now, in the introspective aftermath of Libby Gate, the nation has begun to generate self-doubts about a society that could betray its ideals by promoting to the seats of highest power men who are willing to compromise basic principles of truth and justice.
Today is not soon enough to begin to rediscover the values and beliefs that our forefathers pursued two centuries ago. I am convinced that a recovery of the principles of limited constitutional government will require far more that installing a new occupant in the White House. We desperately need a return to the Constitution itself, at the heart of which is the belief that America is a nation of laws and not of Caesars.
As I have traveled across the world, I have come to the reluctant conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong with U.S. foreign policy and that the time has passed for glibly praising “the American way of life” without pondering the fact that our nation is as bitterly divided today as it was 140 years ago. Libby Gate is only one among many confidence-shaking events. Our government suffers from crippled leadership, and it is not just a few radical left-wingers who are saying so. Far too many of our national leaders have become power-intoxicated, self-righteous do-gooders, sure that their purposes justify their wrongdoings. The debacle of the Iraq War, the unprecedented budget deficit, the saber-rattling vis-à-vis other Middle-Eastern nations, all show how vulnerable our constitutional system is and reveal a deep-seated fear that the very moral fiber of our nation has been sapped of strength.
No attempt to resolve the great policy issues of the nation can succeed unless we first of all face and solve the fundamental cause of our disillusionment: Government simply cannot fix society. The best it can offer are cosmetic changes. What is sorely needed is a new generation of individuals who are guided by the rule of law. The president must be taught to obey the Constitution, which defines the power of his office. Americans must show their patriotism, not by unquestioning obeisance to their political leaders, but by loyalty to the law of the land. This is, I believe, the only way to stem the trend toward Caesarism in the Oval Office.
What caused the Libby scandal is nothing less than a breakdown in constitutional government and the aura of divine power that now surrounds the presidency. The lust for power is ultimately at the root of Libby Gate, and is behind every story of betrayed trust.
America is again at a crossroads. The Constitution or Caesar? The choice is ours.
July 9, 2007
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.