I Don’t Even Think The President Looked Up the Word “Fight” in a Dictionary

| June 17, 2011 | Comments (0)

We have a law called the War Powers Act. It says, essentially, that the President can hop in that boss muscle car we call the United States Military and take it for a spin pretty much any time he wants, but if he’s going to take it on a long trip, he has to come back and ask us (where “us” is represented by our elected representatives in Congress). Now, President Obama has taken out military into Libya. He didn’t ask us before he did it. Heck, he wasn’t even in the country when he gave the order. But we were willing to extend him a slight benefit of the doubt because he is the Commander-in-Chief and we owe any man who holds that title at least that much.

Since then, Congress has asked him, in increasingly irritated and serious tones as the days have passed, to clue them in on what, exactly, he’s doing with our brave soldiers. President Obama has flatly refused. Not only has he not asked us for permission once in the almost three months since he turned control of the US military over to NATO, he hasn’t even given us a coherent summary of his plans.

Until Wednesday.

The President sent Congress a 30-page explanation for why he will not seek its blessing that is, and I’m not even kidding when I say this, the most stunning display of Presidential chutzpah since Bill Clinton looked into a camera and lied his hamburger-eating tail off about his dalliances with Monica Lewinsky.

The paper boils down to two points.

1) We aren’t actually engaged in “hostilities”, which would trigger the War Powers Act, because while we’re dropping bombs and shooting missiles at Libyan forces, they aren’t actually shooting back.

2) Screw you.

Seriously. Those are the two pillars that hold up his entire case. What’s worse, he actually overruled the general counsel at the Pentagon and the head of the Office of Legal Counsel (whose entire job it is to give the President advice just like this) to do it. Instead, he leaned on the bizarre counsel of the White House lawyer and a far-out left-winger named Harold Koh to give Congress, and the entire nation, one giant kiss-off.

So now our President,  just 2 1/2 years ago pilloried George W. Bush as a warmonger for taking us to war in Iraq even though Bush got the overwhelming approval of a Democrat-controlled Congress of which he was a member, has taken us into war on the rationalization that it’s not really a fight if the other guy isn’t fighting back. But if it’s not a fight — if you don’t consider a guy hostile who is beating you senseless with a pipe wrench while you lie on the floor unable to even raise your hands to ward off the blows — what is it?

I don’t expect we’ll get an answer from the White House to that question because the very second he answers it, Congress is going to come down on his head like a ton of very ticked-off bricks. The President is indeed the Commander-in-Chief, and that title gives him a great deal of latitude in what he can do, but he does not own the military. We do. And before he treats our soldiers like his personal possessions, to do with as he will, he owes us an explanation for what he is doing and why he is doing it.

 

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Category: Our Foreign Policy, President Barack Obama

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