Today it was once again possible to hear both serving officers of the armed forces and the newspeople who cover them speak of their belief that military and naval officers "serve the president." This time the mention was in connection with the "discovery" that Petraeus and Odierno have decided (some time ago) that they will not vote in the national election. Odierno was taped saying that voting would be a bad idea because to do so would compromise his ability to "serve the president" whomever that might be.
It was actually a very old custom of the US Army that regular officers did not vote. My father did not vote until he retired from the Army. That custom has not been followed for a long time, but the reason that Odierno gave is not the reason that was contemplated in the past.
In days of old, it was understood that members of the armed forces served the constitution and through that instrument they served the federal union. That is quite different.
The principle is simple. The president is not sovereign. He is the instrument of the constitution as are the members of the armed forces. The president has no authority or right to order anyone in the armed forces to do anything that is unconstitutional or indeed illegal. If he does, then he need not be obeyed and such an order is proof in itself of a "high crime."
The present administration in Washington has done everything in its power to persuade that, in effect, the president IS sovereign. This is a lie and a pernicious doctrine that, if accepted, would make us all the servants of a king or perhaps a queen.
I have had old army friends argue to me that they DO think of the president as king and that they must think thusly because how else would they know whom to obey.
I think it must be said that such ideas are unworthy in those to whom the constitution and the people have entrusted so much. pl