Monday, March 28, 2011

You can’t have it both ways

Hillary Clinton and the bloodthirsty Valkyries backed President Obama into a corner and he pulled the trigger on a couple hundred Tomahawks.  Certainly not the brightest thing that he has ever done, but hey – what has he done right so far?  Now a lot of people on the right are screaming about Presidential authority and the War Powers Act of 1973. 

The Constitution calls for a strong Executive specifically because the Founders had the wretched experience of rule by committee in both the Revolution and subsequently under the Articles of Confederation.  Indeed we very nearly elected a king.  It was seriously considered as an option during the Constitutional Convention (see "Miracle at Philadelphia" by Catherine Drinker Bowen).  Some thought that it would be a bad idea to have former Presidents running around after they left office (they must have foreseen Jimmy Carter) and recommended a lifetime term though cooler heads prevailed. 

As for the President’s power to light up our enemies the intent of the Founding Fathers might be best observed during their lifetimes when wars were prosecuted against American Indians.  Indian nations were considered sovereign nations and as evidence we entered into treaties with them.  President George Washington (who presided over the birth of and also signed the Constitution) launched a war against the Shawnee Confederation though there was no declaration of war.  That war ended with the Treaty of Greenville. 

The lack of a declaration of war has been the rule rather than the exception during our entire history.  In the Constitution only three words buried in the middle of the duties of Congress deal with war.  There is ten times that much verbiage on Impeachment.  This part of the separation of powers has only really been contentious in modern times.  Our Armed Forces were at war in a variety of places throughout the world in the first half of the 20th Century without benefit of a declaration of war. 

Of course that was all before the infamous War powers Act of 1973.  Democrats imposed the War Powers Act on the country over the veto of an unpopular Republican President in 1973.  The very next President promptly ignored it several times as have all presidents who followed.  That isn't because those Presidents have been rouge actors (well maybe Clinton was a rouge), but rather because they all rightly considered the War Power Act to be unconstitutional.  We did just fine for the 185 years that preceded the War Powers Act without it. 

The War Powers Act has always been the Democrat's baby and every President since 1973 to include all of the Republicans have considered it an infringement of his Constitutional power.  Presidents Ford, Bush 41 and Bush 43, as well as Reagan have made sure to ignore various provisions of the War Powers Act exactly to make the point that they are very much a Commander in chief as the Constitution indicates.  Each made sure to reinforce that the President is responsible for the defense as well as the offense of this Nation in order to protect the office of the Presidency.      

Congress has the ability to exercise authority over military action and some of them are working on that now.  They have the authority to stop the action - we just don't know if they will have the courage.  Feckless Democrats asserted that authority in 1975 to clear the path for the Vietnamese Communists to slaughter their Southern brethren.  Congress knows how to shut something down when they want to.  

With all that said – we would have been infinitely better off had Obama approached war or “kinetic military action” against Libya in the same manner that President Georg W. Bush did.  It is hard to imagine that even a President McCain would have bobbled the ball this bad.  We would still be dropping bombs on hapless Libyans, but Congress would have been informed and the American people would know what the hell was going on. 

President Obama has committed enough outrages on the American people that we don't need to dwell on this one.  American service men and women are in combat – let’s back them up.  Days before Obama started slinging Tomahawk missiles at Qaddafi many were outraged that Obama wasn't doing anything - now that he has done something everyone wants to whine about how he did it.  Come on – he’s making Jimmy Carter look like Winston Frigging Churchill – what did you expect? 

Let’s concentrate on getting rid of him in 2012 and flipping the Senate so we can clean up the mess.  

Miracle At Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May - September 1787


  1. As a former point to the American spear, I have to say that I would prefer to keep Congress out of it. The muddled and mostly dangerous rules of engagement are almost always created by committees, not individual leaders. Our troops would definitely be safer, and probably be more effective (if that's possible) with fewer chefs stirring the pot. Of course, as a Marine, I believe we should get rid of staff officers and go back to everyone is a grunt first, and a whatever else second. Every combat veteran I've ever talked to, and the number is high, have complained about having one or more hands tied while risking life and (tied up) limb for this country.

    As you pointed out, Republicans tend to inform Congress of their intentions to engage in hostilities. I cannot think of a time when Congress has said no, so I can't understand why Obama didn't go to Congress, other than his complete incompetence and inability to make decisions.

  2. Guys,

    I have a new theory. This war isn't about Libya. It's about sucking the air out of the room over budget cuts. I've been thinking about this since day one since the whole mess didn't make sense and still doesn't.

  3. 10th - I find it scandalous that the press allows Obama to keep up the barrage of insults to the Bush 43's war effort while allowing Obama a pass. From strictly the mechanics of taking the nation to war - Bush 43 and Iraq is the perfect case study while Obama has done nearly everything wrong.

    H-Nox - you might have found the secret. Libya is to Obama what Bosnia was to Clinton. Obama is trying to mask budget woes while Clinton was attempting to cover-up the Lewinsky scandal.