The attempt on the part of congressional leaders to obstruct growing discontent with Obama’s war in Libya by jumping the gun (so to speak) and approving the war without even having been formally asked to approve it brings with it a whole new host of questions.
First of all, I’d be interested to know how closely McCain and Kerry have been colluding with the administration on this, whether or not it included some top-down direction. Second, what kind of cognitive dissonance must these senior senators be going through to fully recognize the swelling opposition in Congress as well as the overwhelming public opposition, and still push for a resolution granting the President unprecedented authority to wage war with impunity? Can someone in the mainstream media please just ask McCain if there are ever any wars we shouldn’t involve ourselves in and if there are ever any conceivable limits on Executive war-making prerogative?
But an older set of questions is itching me (by older I mean just barely last week). These were articulated by Amy Davidson at the New Yorker blog:
So why would the President choose a bad legal argument over a better one? The better question might just be this: Why is he so reluctant to bring this one to Congress? Is it because he thinks that he can’t get their approval (which should cause him to ask why), because he thinks it’s just a lot of trouble (so are a lot of things worth doing, not to mention ones the law requires of us), or because he’s caught in some web of self-delusion—since he’s not the sort of President, or person, who gets involved with wars, this can’t be one? (It is generally a bad sign when policy decisions provoke politico-psychological speculation.) Or is it a matter of principle—a belief that Presidents shouldn’t have to ask Congress for permission for anything short of D-Day?
It must be a mixture of the last two speculations. Self delusion is conjecture on my part, but its comforting somehow. He lives in his own little bubble as President and good sense just evades him. The last one, though, is the more strategic explanation. If Obama gets away with this piece of Executive overreach, it sets a precedent for whenever he may need it in the future. You never know when an unnecessary, unpopular, illegal opportunity to go to war is going to pop up.