The New Copperheads
I recently remarked on the rhetorical similarities between the Civil War-era Copperheads, “the Peace Democrats” who went out of their way to obstruct the Union war effort, and today’s Democratic Party.
Of course, rhetoric is one thing. Action to obstruct is another. With their recent vote to hamstring the authority of the president and his ability to prosecute the war in Iraq, the Democratics have assumed full Copperhead status by moving from the former to the latter.
Congress’s action in this case is clearly unconstitutional. The principle that once Congress has funded a military force, that body has no further authority to direct or limit its deployment or employment, was established during the administration of John Adams and America’s “Quasi-War” with France (1798-1801).
Unfortunately for the health of the Republic, Copperhead behavior has become institutionalized in today’s Democratic Party establishment and among a disturbingly high proportion of that party’s voters. With the honorable exception of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and a handful of others, there is no faction within the Democratic Party that can counter the influence of today’s Copperheads.
The members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation must be so proud of themselves. No doubt the ghost of Rep. Clement Vallandigham (D-OH), the arch-Copperhead and Confederate sympathizer, is proud of them, too. The Rhode Island delegation may not sympathize with our enemies in Iraq and elsewhere, but by their vote, they have given those enemies as much aid and comfort as Vallandigham and the other Copperheads gave the Confederate cause during the War of the Rebellion.