With him being a former professor who taught constitutional law, I am constantly astonished when our President uses imagery that makes constitutional actions by Congress look more like back-alley thievery. As many teachers and professors understand, vivid imagery makes topics come to life, and can grow larger in the student’s mind than the actual text of the topic being studied. And the art of a great teacher, is to connect the imagery that best represents the topic in order to ensure the student’s proper understanding of the topic.
Today the President stated that the Republicans in Congress, “will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.” He further stated that, “The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip.” (Some news agencies even reported that the President stated that he would not, “negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people.“) Yet as I read the Constitution, I find in Article 1, Section 8, that, “The Congress shall have Power…to pay the Debts…” Furthermore, the very Founding Fathers who helped write, and then sell the U.S. Constitution to the states, also wrote in Federalist Paper no. 78, “The legislature not only commands the purse (i.e. the power to control the money), but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated” (emphasis added).
In all likelihood, the President was not in any way contesting the legitimate power of Congress to raise the debt ceiling, but rather saying that it should not use the debt ceiling raising as a tool to accomplish other goals. But if this is so, it makes the President’s imagery all the worse. While understanding that Congress has a legitimate role in determining the conditions upon which Debts will be paid, he uses imagery of criminality and thuggery to characterize their use of that legitimate role. And unfortunately, this also means that he is summarily discounting the desires and wishes of the voters who elected a majority of GOP members to Congress.
Rather than painting the GOP as unreasonable thugs who want to kill our economy with a “self-inflicted wound,” it might serve him well to instead logically explain to the America people why he believes spending on credit is necessary for the nation’s well-being. At least that way, his arguments would be based on the issue, and not the mischaracterization of his opposition.
P.S. The full faith and credit clause of the Constitution has nothing to do with currency or debts. While it is typically discouraged in school to use wikipedia as a source of reference, it might be worth a peek every now and again for our professor-turned-President...even wikipedia would have given that answer an “F.”