Gary Hart, With a 'This is Bullshit' Speech Draft

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(See update below.) As I mentioned several times last year, especially here and here, I think former Senator Gary Hart can claim a better record of being right about national-security issues, over a longer period of time, than nearly any other major political figure.

Today at his Matters of Principle site he offers a proposed version of what I have been calling the necessary "This is Bullshit" speech from President Obama. Hart suggests that Obama deliver it tomorrow night, August 1, and that it begin this way:

>>My fellow Americans.  Tonight I have signed an order raising the debt ceiling for the next two years.  I have taken this extraordinary step because I had no other choice.  My duties under our Constitution include being commander-in-chief of our armed forces.  Our forces are presently engaged in two long wars as well as hostilities in North Africa.  I have taken a solemn oath to 'preserve, protect, and defend' our Constitution. To jeopardize in any way the well being of our troops, especially while in conflict, to endanger their pay and the housing and care of their families, to place in doubt our ability to pay for the care of the wounded, to place in doubt all the logistical support armies in the field depend on, would not only be unconscionable, it would be unconstitutional.

My counsel and some of the finest Constitutional scholars in the land have expressed ambivalence about this step.  There will be time for them, and our judicial branch, to debate, and quite possibly overrule, my decision.  But that will take time and we do not have time.  Lives are at stake.  I know with certainty that at least one segment of American society, the parents and loved ones of our brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines serving abroad, will understand and hopefully support this extraordinary action.

This must be made clear: I do not support any notion of what some have called an 'imperial presidency' or executive authority that unbalances our Constitutional balance of powers.  But when Congress cannot or will not act, and when the lives of our forces in conflict are at stake, I must exercise the full responsibilities of the office I have undertaken to execute.  I simply have no other choice.  And I fully expect those Justices of our Supreme Court who have previously defended extraordinary executive power to understand and appreciate the necessity of this action in our nation's security interest.<<

Read the full version at Hart's site. This is an extraordinary, wholly unnecessary wound our political system is about to inflict upon itself. So far the Obama Administration has seemed the object rather than the master of debt-related events. I hope that it is thinking as broadly as possible about ways to spare the country and the world financial system the needless damage that is in sight. Hart's plan -- which, after all, boils down to a President's declaration that he will ensure that the nation honors obligations that previous Congressional votes have committed it to -- is among those it should be considering.

Update: after the jump, a tech executive who is politically conservative makes a complementary argument.
_____

An official of a very successful tech company writes:

>>What you cite as point #1 is precisely my view--in creating and passing bills that spend beyond national means, both Houses and every member of Congress committed the nation to pay the cost, either through cost reductions, new debt, greater taxation, business nationalization, or wars of conquest. Belatedly resolving buyer's remorse by nonpayment is dishonorable.

Even those, like me, who are strenuously opposed to "wild liberal spending" and "increased taxes and debt" should be even more opposed to the willful disrespect of laws, obligations and creditors being shown by the House. The honorable path? Raise the debt ceiling so that we can pay the damage claims from our wild spending binge then have brutal interventions against out of control spending. But to displace anger about debt onto the creditors who invested in the integrity of America, or retirees who are in our care, is a grievous mistake.<<
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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