The liberal left Democrats are upset that President Elect Donald Trump has tapped retired United States Marine Corps General James Mattis as his choice to be Secretary of Defense. The position traditionally goes to a civilian, and the Democrats fear the position being held by a military man (despite the fact that Mattis retired from the Armed Services in May of 2013). Personally, I love the choice, and I think Mattis would be a terrific Secretary of Defense.
“He’s the best,” Trump said. “They say he’s the closest thing to Gen. George Patton that we have and it’s about time.”
The Democrats, however, say that Mattis is not only a bad choice, but he cannot legally be the Secretary of Defense because, after two world wars and fears that a military man may try to seize control of the United States, in 1947 Congress created 10 U.S.C. § 113(a). Section 113(a). The position of Secretary of War had been discontinued, and was replaced by Secretary of Defense, and in that statute that created the post of Secretary of Defense, the statute prohibits the appointment of a Defense Secretary who was an active-duty commissioned officer of “a regular component of an armed force” within the prior seven years. Mattis has been retired from military duty about half that time.
Congress' passing of the original National Security Act in 1947 accompanied fears that we were entering an age of standing armies and military-industrial complexes very different from the eras of our Founding Fathers, or the nineteenth century. It was passed in the shadow of the passage of the Twenty-Second Amendment, which imposes a term limit on the President after Franklin Roosevelt’s long, nearly four term, presidency. That Congress had seen a world where military regimes had rapidly subverted civilian governments over the prior two decades, and they were concerned American voters may be willing, if effectively deceived, into turning to military men to run the country. The Act brought the military under the arm of civilian agencies, combining the armed services into a single Department of Defense with a National Security Council and the CIA as a part of the union. Congress wanted to make sure the military remained under civilian control, though they did not impose similar restrictions on other key positions.
Interestingly enough, that was a Republican Congress who concocted the National Security Act of 1947, and now, suddenly, the Democrats are strict constitutionalists, and are in full agreement with past Republicans. The Democrats are now screaming that it is unconstitutional for General Mattis to be appointed as Secretary of Defense, based on the provisions of the National Security Act of 1947.
In reality, the statute is a piece of legislation. The current Republican Congress has full authority to alter the piece of legislation, let Trump sign it, and therefore make Mattis eligible essentially with a stroke of the pen.
Congress passed the law, and Congress can change it. They can shorten the seven years to three, if they want. Oh, and if the Democrats complain about Congress taking such an action, let us remember that the original minimum was ten years. The Democrats, while in control of Congress in 2008, amended the statute to the current seven year requirement.
-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary