“Does the War Powers Act mean anything?” ask two lefty law professors, Bruce Ackerman and Oona Hathaway, in today’s Washington Post.
“If nothing happens,” they warn, “history will say that the War Powers Act was condemned to a quiet death by a president, [Obama], who had solemnly pledged, on the campaign trail, to put an end to indiscriminate warmaking.”
Ackerman and Hathaway are in a state of alarm because “this week, the War Powers Act confronts its moment of truth. “Friday will mark the 60th day since President Obama told Congress of his Libyan campaign,” they write.
“If Obama fails to obtain congressional support for his decision within this time limit, he has only one option [under the War Powers Act] — end American involvement within the following 30 days.”
Needless to say, that ain’t gonna happen. Congress isn’t going to act, and the Obama administration isn’t going to abandon our NATO treaty obligations. And so, it would seem, the War Powers Act is history.
Our friend Jim Antle may disagree, but I can only say, “Good riddance!” The War Powers Act has always been an unconstitutional infringement upon the president’s rights and responsibilities as commander in chief. And so, no president has ever allowed himself to be hamstrung by its strictures.
Oh, to be sure, as Ackerman and Hathaway point out, Jimmy Carter’s justice department “affirmed the constitutionality of the 60-day clock.” And Obama administration, likewise, asserted that its Libyan campaign is “consistent with the War Powers Resolution.” But that’s mere rhetorical window dressing designed to assuage the hurt feelings of the left wing.
In point of fact, presidents — even liberal Democrat presidents such as Carter, Clinton and Obama — do what they believe they must do in order to protect and defend the United States of America. And they aren’t much bothered by the unconstitutional War Powers Act.
And if Congress doesn’t like it, then Congress has three very viable options:
1. It can cut off funds for the disputed operation in question.
2. It can make a political issue out of the matter and seek electoral retribution in November.
3. It can impeach the president.
The point is: Congress is not defenseless — spineless perhaps, but not defenseless. And that’s probably a good thing.