Today's column is on Obama's unwillingness to come back to Congress for further reauthorization of his Libyan adventure.
The U.S. intervention in Libya’s civil war, intervention that began with a surplus of confusion about capabilities and a shortage of candor about objectives, is now taking a toll on the rule of law. In a bipartisan cascade of hypocrisies, a liberal president, with the collaborative silence of most congressional conservatives, is traducing the War Powers Resolution.
Enacted in 1973 over President Nixon’s veto, the WPR may or may not be wise. It is, however, unquestionably a law, and Barack Obama certainly is violating it. It stipulates that a president must terminate military action 60 days after initiating it (or 90, if the president “certifies” in writing an “unavoidable military necessity” respecting the safety of U.S. forces), unless Congress approves it. Congress has been supine and silent about this war, which began more than 70 days ago....
Liberals are situational ethicists regarding presidential warmaking: Imagine their comportment if Obama’s predecessor — who got congressional authorization for his uses of force — had behaved as Obama is doing regarding Libya. Most conservatives, who preen about their commitment to keeping government on a short leash, seem anesthetized by the administration’s sophistries.
“No president,” says Sen. John McCain, “has ever recognized the constitutionality of the War Powers Act, and neither do I. So I don’t feel bound by any deadline.” Oh? No law is actually a law if presidents and senators do not “recognize” it? Now, there is an interesting alternative to judicial review, and an indicator of how executive aggrandizement and legislative dereliction of duty degrade the rule of law