I have always heard from conservatives that they were unfailingly devoted to the plain meaning of the Constitution.
Yet a number of them seem to be disturbed that Barack Obama made a statement yesterday that didn't contain quite enough unquestioningly worshipful deference to the views of David Petraeus, the U.S. commander of multi-national forces in Iraq.
Maybe they need to be reminded of a couple of facts. For one thing, the Framers set up a regime of civilian control over the military. The president, for example, is the commander in chief. That means the president is General Petraeus's boss.
Petraeus is currently responsible for one specific military theater, whereas the president's responsibilities are considerably broader. Obama is running for president, in case they haven't noticed, and stands a good chance of becoming Petraeus's boss early next year.
For another, perhaps they've forgotten that the current commander in chief ignored the advice of several of his own generals, most conspicuously those who argued for greater numbers of troops deployed to Iraq in the first place.
A couple of them were even relieved of duty by the commander in chief. And, wouldn't you know it, one of the civilians who supported those generals' recommendations was none other than John McCain, who conservatives are now supporting in opposition to Obama.
Speaking of McCain, his desperation was on full display yesterday, when he practically accused Obama of treason, by suggesting the latter would prefer to "lose a war" in furtherance of his own political ambitions, followed immediately by one of his creepy little grins.
And, even more tellingly, McCain criticized Obama for not understanding the circumstances of the so-called "surge" but at the same time made a laughable misstatement of chronology, attributing a number of tribal accords as consequent effects of the surge, even though the accords had been reached several months prior to the surge's initial implementation.
The surge is supposedly one of McCain's signature campaign issues, but it's clear from both candidates' statements yesterday that Obama has a better handle on its circumstances, despite his having opposed it, and despite his refusal thus far to acknowledge its success in a manner suitable to conservatives, the poor dears.
Finally, McCain and his supporters are crying about the amount of press attention paid to Obama's Middle East tour, even though McCain is the one who relentlessly demanded the tour in the first place. What did he expect?
Maybe this is McCain's deliberate strategy: make scurrilous accusations of sedition, deliver a series of embarrassing misstatements of fact and non-existent geography, and thereby recover the media spotlight.
If so, it's a dumb strategy. Boneheaded statements coming in the wake of press criticism are guaranteed to rouse the press alright, but not with much positive effect for McCain.