Following Friday's first Presidential Debate, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois put out a campaign ad criticizing Senator John McCain for not using the words "middle class" during the 90 minute debate which was focused, at least partially on the economy.
I can't say whether or not the words "middle class" should have been mentioned - but what struck me is that, during a debate about who should be the next President of the United States, no one mentioned the word "Constitution."
The oath of office, administered to each incoming President does not pledge to "preserve, protect and defend" the economy, the middle class, the borders, or even the nation or the people of the United States. Instead each new President swears "that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." That's the oath they take standing in front of the nation.Those are the words that magically transform them from President-elect to President. So it'd be nice to know what they think it means - especially given the Bush Administration's disasterous relationship with our founding documents.
So, to the debate moderators for the next three presidential and vice presidential debates - how about a few of these questions:
- What does the Presidential oath mean to you? How would you uphold it?
- How do you reconcile your vote on the recent FISA reforms with the Fourth Amendment's requirement that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..."?
- The Constitution is rooted in the ideas of separation of powers and checks and balances between the branches of government. Do you believe the Bush Administration has overstepped its Constitutional limits? What would you do, as President, to reimpose limitations on the executive branch?
- Is the vice presidency a part of the executive branch of government?
- The Fifth Amendment requires that "no person shall be.... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law...." Do you think our military prison at Guantanamo Bay meets this requirement? What would you do as President to rectify the situation?
- The Supreme Court has indicated that Congress' Legislative Powers include the power to issue legally binding subpeonas. Do you agree with that analysis? If so, does the Department of Justice have the right to refuse to enforce those subpeonas on the President's say-so?
Those are just a few of the questions I'd like the candidates to answer on live national televison - what say you?