Actually, what this is is ONE reason why the distinctions between left and right — which seem to mean so much (and of course, I would say far too much) to so many in this country — are of little concern, and NO appeal, to me:
Posted Monday, March 21, 2011 12:31 PM | By David Weigel
The Republicans who out-and-out oppose attacks on Libya without congressional authorization are few, and their names are not surprising anyone who follows debates over war funding. Here’s freshman Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich, who was backed by Ron Paul last year.
It’s not enough for the President simply to explain military actions in Libya to the American people, after the fact, as though we are serfs. When there is no imminent threat to our country, he cannot launch strikes without authorization from the American people, through our elected Representatives in Congress. No United Nations resolution or congressional act permits the President to circumvent the Constitution.
I love that libertarian indignation in “as though we are serfs.” He means it, too. To people of certain ideological stripe, we are all right on the verge of serfdom, every minute.
Here’s the president’s letter ‘splaining things to Congress, by the way. The 119th such letter sent by a president.
Beyond the serf stuff, do some of those phrases sound exactly like the antiwar left to you? Yeah, to me, too. But there’s nothing surprising about it. I think I shared the story with you recently of one of my wife’s leftist professors who supported George Wallace because he’d never get us involved in a Vietnam.
Now, for you Paulistas: Do I not care about the Constitution? Of course I do. And before this nation actually goes to real WAR with an actual other NATION, the kind of debate that leads to the declaration of war is a good thing, and the Framers were wise to include the requirement — particularly given how weak and vulnerable this nation was in those days, and how ruinous a war with one of the great powers could have been.
But of course, that very generation, and the first president of the limited-national-gummint party, Thomas Jefferson, did not see such a declaration as necessary to deal with the Barbary Pirates. You know, the shores of Tripoli?
They DID think it meet for Congress to authorize the president to act — as Congress did before the Iraq invasion, and before the Gulf War.
If anything, the issue here is whether Obama should have paused long enough to wait for such a formal authorization in this case. Did he act too soon? Did he cave too quickly to Hillary telling him to “man up” and act? I don’t think so, given the circumstances — the dire situation on the ground in Libya, the fact that the Brits and the French (yes, the French!) were ready to go. But frankly, I didn’t think about it before just now. Should we have had a big national debate between the UN resolution and action (regardless of whether it then would have been too late)?
What do y’all think?