Why are Republicans allowing him to speak for them on Libya?
Liberals, by their nature, can’t be overtly hostile to anyone, nor can they admit their inner feelings of anger, hatred or warlike intent. They sublimate their hostility in legislation and court decrees which, too, are defined to exclude hostile intent. Which explains why President Obama has chosen to engage in a Clintonian parsing of terms. This time, it’s not a question of what the meaning of “is” is: it’s a question of how you can bomb and strafe people without engaging in “hostilities.”
When President Obama began “Operation Odyssey Dawn” in March, Republican reactions ranged from Newt Gingrich’s confusion to John McCain’s fevered desire to remove Gaddafi from power. Only a few muted voices opposed it on the grounds that we had no national interest at stake.
Since then, the swabbies have fired about 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Libyan targets and various American fly-guys have flown hundreds of combat missions. The announced mission was to bomb and strafe Gaddafi’s forces to protect the Libyan rebels and civilians. The unofficial mission, stated by Obama, was to topple Gaddafi’s regime. Many missions have apparently been flown with the objective of killing the Libyan dictator.
Last week came word that our constitutional law professor turned president overruled two White House lawyers to reach his legal opinion that we are not engaged in “hostilities,” so the 1973 War Powers Resolution is inapplicable and Congress is entitled to no voice in the matter of U.S. intervention in Libya.
Under the War Powers Resolution, any president who commits U.S. forces to combat must obtain congressional permission to continue the action after sixty days have passed. The Resolution says it applies to “the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and to the continued use of such forces in hostilities or in such situations.”
Last week, Obama told Congress to take its War Powers Resolution and shove it because the aforementioned Resolution applied only to “hostilities” and, in his legal opinion, we were not engaged in hostilities in Libya because there were no U.S. troops on the ground there.
I do claim some expertise in constitutional law, and I have a different opinion. Unless the 150-odd Tomahawk missiles we’ve fired into Libya were launched by accident, and all of our fly-guys mistook Libya for a new environmentally approved practice firing range, anyone on the receiving end of the ordnance would reasonably conclude that they had experienced a hostile act which, in fact, comprised an act of war. And those people would be correct.
Whether or not it is constitutional, of which there is considerable doubt, Obama’s parsing of the War Powers Resolution’s terms stands on Clinton’s foundation. I’m not saying that launching a Tomahawk missile is the wartime equivalent of oral sex, but I do insist that firing a missile or dropping a bomb is an act of war regardless of whether the people on either end of the act are wearing Kevlar or condoms.
From almost all congressional Democrats, reactions are strictly partisan. They agree, as did Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, that no congressional authorization for Libya is necessary. Reid’s war expertise was established in April 2007 when he declared the war in Iraq already lost. Now, with Obama’s open-ended commitment to the Libya operation passing sixty days, Reid told Jim Lehrer last Friday that “we have no troops on the ground there, and this thing’s going to be over before you know it anyway,” so he believes no war powers resolution is necessary.
But “before you know it” translates into, “before Republican opposition focuses the media on it.” If only the reactions from congressional Republicans were more rational and honest.
House Speaker John Boehner, playing Oliver Twist, begged the president for more workhouse gruel two weeks ago, asking for answers to some semi-tough questions on Libya. But it fell to Sen. John McCain to take the most bizarre stance, attacking his fellow Republicans for questioning the Libya operation.
In last Monday’s Republican candidates’ debate, some few of the presidential wannabes managed to assert the right ideas on Libya and Afghanistan. Rep. Michele Bachmann — smarter and tougher than guys such as T-Paw — stated what should be obvious: that we have no national interest in Libya and for that reason we shouldn’t be engaged in military action there. (Even Mitt Romney got it right, more or less.)
In response, McCain took Bachmann and the others to task, accusing them in a Senate floor speech of being isolationists. He reiterated that charge on the Sunday talk shows yesterday, going further to say that those opposing the Libya operation may be calculating on the basis of politics rather than national interest.
And McCain upped the ante: despite the fact that the president has told Congress to butt out of Libya, McCain said that he and Vichy John Kerry were going to introduce a Senate resolution authorizing continued war — er, kinetic military action — in and over Libya.
This is classic McCain: arrogating to himself the leadership of the Republican Party which he led to disastrous defeat in 2008. He is wrong both politically and substantively. The more he projects himself in this role with this position, the harder it is for conservative candidates to make their mark.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?