None Dare Call It Treason
WASHINGTON — Hooray! Hooray! The wicked Congress has gone home. So to speak, since most of the members actually live right here in the capital city and environs.
But at least they are not in session. I am reminded of something said in early 1866 by Gideon John Tucker, a surrogate judge in New York, who wrote: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the (state) legislature is in session.”
In this case, all these years later, the government of the republic is safe for at least another month. I say that because the Republicans in Congress will be taking a break from their determination to overthrow the sovereign, the president of the United States. As we know, the senior leader of that party, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is on record as saying in 2010: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
In fairness, McConnell later added, “I don’t want the president to fail; I want him to change.” Didn’t happen. The president hasn’t changed. So the only option left for Sen. McConnell and his sidekick, House Speaker John Boehner, is presidential failure, failure of the sovereign.
Under our system of government, the president is that sovereign. And the classic definition of treason, going back to 12th-century England, is: “The offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill its sovereign.”
“None Dare Call It Treason,” to quote the title of a popular right-wing tract of the 1960s, but the effect of Republican “governance” these last few years is a pretty fair modern equivalent. Back in the day, the ‘Sixties, a right-wing polemicist named John Stormer wrote that enormously popular book — it sold more than 5 million copies — which began by accusing the Congress of the United States, with help from the United Nations, of secretly and directly funding communist militaries dedicated to the overthrow of the United States government.
Those were the days when the founder of the John Birch Society, of which Stormer was a member in very good standing, said in a letter that President Dwight Eisenhower was probably “a conscious, dedicated agent of the communist conspiracy.” In his book “The Politician,” founder Robert Welch, the creator of caramel popsicles called Sugar Daddies, added: “With regard to Eisenhower, it is difficult to avoid raising the question of deliberate treason.”
History has shown that these guys were just rich nuts. McConnell and Boehner, on the other hand, are public officials sworn to uphold the Constitution and sovereignty of the United States.
They are, of course, not traitors by legal definitions, though they to do fit the classic definition of endeavoring to “harm” the sovereign, and the nation as well. The minority leader and the speaker have done their best to prevent the president from presiding, and they have done even more to prevent the Congress from legislating or fulfilling most of its other constitutional duties.
“I have been here 7 1/2 years, and we have never yet solved a real problem that we have fiscally — not one,” said Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. “We haven’t dealt with Medicare, we haven’t dealt with Social Security, we haven’t dealt with Medicaid. … We’ve done nothing but skate.”
Once upon a time, in 1948, a president, Harry S Truman, got himself re-elected by attacking a Republican “do-nothing Congress.” This one, the 113th, has done even less, passing only 108 substantive bills, according to Charles Blow of The New York Times. One thing that means is that President Obama has vetoed only two bills in six years. The reason, of course, is that there is plenty of partisan rhetoric coming his way from Congress, but there have been very few bills from the legislative branch of our government.
There is one other unintended consequence of Congress’ accentuating the negative. Like nature, power abhors a vacuum. As the Congress deliberately fails to act, its powers will gradually shift to the federal courts and to the White House.
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