Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, chairman of the House Republican Conference, gave a speech Monday at Hillsdale College on the topic of “The Presidency.” The American Spectator’s editors thought the entire speech worth reading.
I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Rep. Pence several times while working for Human Events in Washington, D.C. If not in 2012, Pence aspires to be a future Republican nominee for the highest office in the land. He will be a good choice.
Excerpts from Pence’s speech on the power of the president:
“Isn’t it amazing, given the great and momentous nature of the office, that those who seek it seldom pause to consider what they are seeking? Rather, unconstrained by principle or reflection, there is a mad rush toward something that, once its powers are seized, the new president can wield as an instrument with which to transform the nation and the people according to his highest aspirations
But, other than in a crisis of the house divided, the presidency is neither fit nor intended to be such an instrument. When it is made that, the country sustains a wound, and cries out justly and indignantly. And what the nation says — the theme of this address… What it says, informed by its long history, impelled by the laws of nature and nature’s God… What it says quite naturally and rightly, if not always gracefully, is that we as a people are not to be ruled and not to be commanded. It says that the president should never forget this; that he has not risen above us, but is merely one of us, chosen by ballot, dismissed after his term, tasked not to transform and work his will upon us, but to bear the weight of decision and to carry out faithfully the design laid down in the Constitution and impassioned by the Declaration of Independence.”
On the Constitution: “A president who slights the Constitution is like a rider who hates his horse: he will be thrown, and the nation along with him. The president solemnly swears to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. He does not solemnly swear to ignore, overlook, supplement, or reinterpret it. Other than in a crisis of morality, decency, and existence, such as the Civil War, if he should want to hurry along the Constitution to fit his own notions or designs, he should do so by amendment rather than adjustment, for if he joins the powers of his office to his own willful interpretation, he steps away from a government of laws and toward a government of men.”
On foreign policy and affairs: “Whereas, at home, the president must be cautious, dutiful, and deferential, abroad, his character must change. Were he to ask for a primer on how to act in relation to other states, which no holder of the office has needed to this point, and were that primer to be written by the American people, whether of 1776 or 2010, you can be confident that it would contain the following instructions:
‘The President of the United States of America bows to no man. You do not bow to kings. When in foreign lands, you do not criticize your own country. You do not argue the case against the United States, but, rather, the case for it. You do not apologize to the enemies of the United States. Should you be confused, a country, people, or region that harbors, shelters, supports, encourages, or cheers attacks upon our country, the slaughter of our children, our mothers, our fathers, our sisters, and brothers… are enemies of the United States. And, to repeat, you do not apologize to them.’”
On war: “If… and it is perhaps the biggest “if” any president can face, for it will follow not just him but hundreds of thousands or millions of others, not just for the rest of their lives but, in cost of blood and souls, beyond life itself.
If… and it is an “if” that requires long and deep thought, tremendously hard labor at determining the truth of things, a lifetime of education, the knowledge of a general, the wisdom of a statesman, and the heart of an infantryman….
If… after careful determination, intense stress of soul, and the deepest prayer….
If, then, you go to war, then, having gone to war, by God, you go to war to win.”