Sunday, October 07, 2007

Titles, and Titles

George Bush is so in love with his title of “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States” (the title conferred by Article 2, Section 2 of our constitution) that he uses it in almost every address he makes to the nation, usually several times and always in its abbreviated form as simply “Commander in Chief.”

He has beaten on that drum so often that he has persuaded even newscasters who are highly critical of him, such as Keith Olbermann, to refer to him by that erroneous title. Olbermann should know better.

George Bush is not this nation’s Commander in Chief.

He is the nation’s Chief Executive, if you like, or its President.

He is Commander in Chief of the nation’s military.

He is not our Commander in Chief, and the distinction is not trivial.

The term “public servant” has lost favor because those in Washington do not want to think of themselves using that term. They want to think of themselves as being “in power” and they use that term freely. But the intent of our form of government is that officials are elected to serve the people of this country, not to rule them.

Our president is elected to serve the people of the country, not to command them. He commands the military forces. By taking their oath to serve in the military, soldiers agree to obey the chain of command up to and including the Commander in Chief. Such obedience is proper and necessary for the conduct of the military.

An ordinary citizen has not and need not take any such oath. The expectation of that kind of obedience from an ordinary citizen would be an abomination. This nation cast off the “divine right of kings” with its obligation of citizens to obey. As a private citizen, no one "commands" me.

Our military forces have a Commander in Chief.

Our nation is led by a public servant.


  1. Anonymous10:58 AM

    very well said, except for one thing... I would say that the nation is SUPPOSED to be led by a public servant... this president is not by almost any definition. And frankly, many of the congress members are not either.

  2. Well, bruce has a point there, of course. I was positing the design of our government rather than its execution.