Drop the CiC cliche

Terrific Glenn Greenwald piece in Salon.com arguing that the modern craze for preferring to the US President as “Commander in Chief” is not only unconstitutional but dangerous.

If I could be granted one small political wish, it would be the permanent elimination of this widespread, execrable Orwellian fetish of reverently referring to the President as “our commander in chief.” And Biden’s formulation here is a particularly creepy rendition, since he’s taunting opponents of Obama that, come Tuesday, they will be forced to refer to him as “our commander in chief Barack Obama” (Sarah Palin, in the very first speech she delivered after being unveiled as the Vice Presidential candidate, said of John McCain: “that’s the kind of man I want as our commander in chief,” and she’s been delivering that same line in her stump speech ever since).

The CiC usage has been assiduously promoted by George W Bush as a way of boosting his view of untramelled presidential power (the so-called ‘unitary executive’ doctrine). After all, in the military, the CiC is someone who must be obeyed. And that’s fine in the armed forces. But the president is a civilian who happens to have been elected to the highest office in the land. His authority is constitutional, not military. If George Bush ordered me to do anything I would tell him to get stuffed — unless I worked for the executive branch of the US government (where he really is the ultimate Boss of Bosses). And so should every American citizen.