I was going through an old personal blog I had started back in 2010 and came across this page. I thought this had been marvelously written and I clicked the link to discover again who had done so. It was done by a man named Michael Rivero who I used to follow but had forgotten about. I will put his website at the bottom of the post and will add him to the list of recommended sites that is now currently in progress.
Dear President Bush; about that “goddamned piece of paper.”
“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”
Let us start out with the fact that the Constitution is actually written on parchment, not paper. A trivial point, I grant you, but one that reveals (along with your inability to correctly pronounce the word “nuclear”) a shocking lack of education in a head of state.
But to get to the point, the Constitution is not the parchment itself, but the ideas written upon it; ideas which form the foundations of our nation, ideas which would carry equal weight if written on stone, glass, metal, or even paper. These ideas are the soul of the nation. They include the recognition that the people of this nation have certain rights, rights which the government does not have the authority to remove. These rights include freedom of speech, to say what we think about the nation at any and all times, to write that opinion down and share it however we choose to. These rights include the freedom to worship as we choose, free from coercion. These rights include the right to privacy, in our homes and businesses, free from government intrusions other than in very specific and well-defined circumstances.
Maybe those rights are inconvenient to you, as such rights are always inconvenient to tyrants, but you are not allowed the choice which rights you will abide by or not. That too is spelled out explicitly in the Constitution.
The Constitution isn’t just a piece of paper or parchment. It’s a contract; the original contract with America. It’s the contract you yourself swore an oath to preserve, protect, and defend against all enemies both foreign and domestic. You attached your name to that promise. You swore that oath before a judge of the United States Supreme Court, with your hand on a Bible. That isn’t just scenery for the cameras. Swearing an oath before a judge carries legal obligations with that oath, and legal penalties for breaking that oath.
The election process by which you claim authority is defined in that Constitution. And as you claim authority by Constitutional process, so too are you limited by Constitutional process. If you act outside the limits of the Constitution, you are no longer acting as the President, but as a private citizen abusing the powers with which you were trusted. A government that acts outside the Constitution ceases to be the legal government of this land.
The Constitution exists not only to tell the government what it may do, but more importantly what it may not do. You, as the President, are not allowed to declare wars without the US Congress. You, the President, are not allowed to seize people at random and send them off to be tortured. And most of all, you, the President, and not allowed to lie to the people and to the Congress.
Every President before you, including your father, swore that oath to preserve, protect, and defend that Constitution. Millions of Americans died in wars in the firm belief that the form of government described on that parchment was worth such a sacrifice. To state that the Constitution is just a “dammed piece of paper” is a slap in the face of every American who ever donned the uniform of the military forces of this country.
Go over to Arlington National Cemetery. It’s not that far from where you live. Look at those tombstones. By your statement, you have written across each and every one the words, “Died for a goddamned piece of paper.”
— Michael Rivero