Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today she hopes President Bush will "listen to the American people" by signing the bill to withdraw troops.
Except the American people elected Bush, while we were at war with Iraq, to continue to give him the veto and the role of Commander in Chief.
Senator Barbara Boxer said, "He acts as if he is a one-man show when it comes to Iraq. And, Mr. President, the American people said no to that this past election. And yet it continues, as if there's no Congress, there's been no election, there's been no change of heart by the American people, when, in fact, there's been an enormous change of heart by the American people."
Not as far as our government is concerned, no, there has been no change of heart. There is not a jot of hard evidence of this. We did not have a referendum on the war, even if you choose to want to frame it that way. People voted against (or chose not to vote for) Republicans for many reasons, not all of them related to the war.
But even if you don't believe that (not sure why you wouldn't, but whatever), it doesn't change the fact that the American people elected Bush as President, and explicitly gave him the authority to be President, with the intent that he would, for four years, do what he thought was best without swaying in the wind of public opinion as Congress does.
That's the major point of having a President, of having him serve for four years, and of having his election dependent primarily on electors instead of individual voters: to keep him insulated from changes of popular opinion. And the people elected him to fulfill that role.
In a very real sense, "listening to the American people" requires -- for the President -- to not "listen to the American people," but to do what he thinks is best. Congress operates under different rules; it is right and proper for them to usually do what their constituents want, especially in the House. But the President most definitely should not follow suit (and, frankly, neither should the Senate).
We, the people, elected Bush. It is not right, proper, or just to demand he follow our changing whims. It is right, proper, and just for him to veto a bill that he believes takes away his proper authority and judgment as Commander in Chief, if he believes it is the wrong thing to do.
You can think Bush is wrong. And you can elect someone else to replace him in 2008. Complaining that he is not "listening to the American people" is utter nonsense.
None of what I am saying here says that Bush is right to veto the bill, or that Congress is wrong to pass a bill demanding withdrawal. This isn't about the particulars, this is about separation of powers and the Constitutional requirements of office. I do think Bush is right to veto the bill, but I am not making that case here.