At Ease, Mr. President – New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/27/opinion/27wills.html?em&ex=1170133200&en=b1729ec04596a44d&ei=5087

Having sent church and state down the path to lusty reunion, Dubya turns his attention to breaching other Constitutional walls. The Draft Dodger President loves to play soldier.

The glorification of the president as a war leader is registered in numerous and substantial executive aggrandizements; but it is symbolized in other ways that, while small in themselves, dispose the citizenry to accept those aggrandizements. We are reminded, for instance, of the expanded commander in chief status every time a modern president gets off the White House helicopter and returns the salute of marines.

That is an innovation that was begun by Ronald Reagan. Dwight Eisenhower, a real general, knew that the salute is for the uniform, and as president he was not wearing one. An exchange of salutes was out of order. (George Bush came as close as he could to wearing a uniform while president when he landed on the telegenic aircraft carrier in an Air Force flight jacket).

We used to take pride in civilian leadership of the military under the Constitution, a principle that George Washington embraced when he avoided military symbols at Mount Vernon. We are not led – or were not in the past – by caudillos.

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