Via Huffington Post, I stumbled across this WSJ article, which describes how a major part of Republican 2010 electoral strategy will be linking Democratic candidates to Nancy Pelosi.
There are certainly many aspects of the Republican approach to electoral strategy that merit some discussion, but I want to focus on the recent back and forth with the NRCC concerning policy in Afghanistan; specifically, the complete and utter disregard for the correct part of the government that should be making military policy.
Let us begin by looking at the verbal jousting concerning the Afghanistan statements:
...The [electoral strategy] approach emerged last week when the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans, issued a statement saying it hopes Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, puts Ms. Pelosi "in her place" on Afghan policy. The statement accused Ms. Pelosi, a California Democrat, of putting party politics ahead of national security in her cautious statements on expanding the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.
Ms. Pelosi Thursday called the statement sexist. "It's really sad. They really don't understand how inappropriate that is," she told reporters. "I'm in my place. I'm speaker of the House, the first woman speaker of the House. And I'm in my place because the House of Representatives voted me there. That language is something I haven't even heard in decades."
In response, Joanna Burgos, an NRCC spokeswoman, said in a statement that Ms. Pelosi "self-righteously believes she is better suited to craft our country's military policy" than is Gen. McChrystal.
I have seen a few outraged reactions (justifiably so, IMHO) to the NRCC statement about putting Speaker Pelosi "in her place." What I have not seen is a reaction to the proto-fascist part of the statement from Joanna Burgos of the NRCC.
Let's look at it again:
Joanna Burgos, an NRCC spokeswoman, said in a statement that Ms. Pelosi "self-righteously believes she is better suited to craft our country's military policy" than is Gen. McChrystal
Would Ms. Burgos and the Republicans be okay with everything if Speaker Pelosi believed she was better suited to craft our country's military policy, just so long as she was not being "self-righteous?" I think not. To me, the NRCC statement reveals an attitude of too great a deference to the military.
I would certainly hope that the views of our military leaders were considered as part of military strategy decisions. Indeed, there is no evidence that military leaders are being excluded from these types of discussions, but on matters of policy, they should have, essentially, no role. It is up to the civilian leadership, through the President as Commander in Chief and the Congress to make policy on behalf of the USA.
Not only is Congress, ostensibly the voice of the people, better suited to crafting our country's military policy, this relationship is spelled out in the Constitution of the United States. I refer to the following excerpts fropm Article 1, Section 8:
The Congress shall have Power To
...provide for the common Defence...
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever...for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
I am not a constitutional scholar, but did I miss something? Is there some other clause of the constitution that grants powers to generals? Perhaps Ms. Burgos and the NRCC should be a bit less self-righteos in condemning the civilian leaders of our nation for performing the roles that the Constitution gives to them.
The bottom line is that, when Joanna Burgos snidely asserts that Speaker Pelosi "self-righteously believes she is better suited to craft our country's military policy" than is Gen. McChrystal, one may go ahead and debate over how self-righteous the Speaker is. However, there is no reasonable way to argue that Gen. McChrystal should be making military policy decisions.
While input from commanders is essential to any decision-making process, I am, quite frankly, astounded to see such a brazen statement from the NRCC concerning their views on the hierarchy and where the civilian leadership should fit into it. I am further amazed to have not seen any sort of reaction to it, although I certainly understand the tsunami of Nobel Peace Prize coverage, the ongoing health care battle and other issues may have played a part.
Once again, the NRCC statement gives us good reason to ask why it is that Republicans seem to hate America and the Constitution.
Also, and more importantly, if the 2010 Republican strategy really is to attack any office-seeking Democrat's ties to Nancy Pelosi, it would be helpful for prominent Democrats to push back early and forcefully on the kind of stupidity exhibited by the NRCC statement attributed to Joanna Burgos.