Chicago newspaper calls out Congress over Obama defiance of War Powers Act

posted at 3:35 pm on May 23, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

If the War Powers Act becomes moot, don’t blame Barack Obama, say the editors of the Chicago Tribune today.  In order to curtail abuses of power from the executive, the legislature not only has to pass laws but also enforce them.  And thus far, they’re not impressed with the Washington Way in Chi-town:

Obama is on the horns of a dilemma. As a candidate, he said the president does not have the power to go to war on his own except in cases of actual or likely attack. But if he were to ask Congress to authorize the Libyan intervention, he would probably be rebuffed. So he’s chosen to simply ignore the law.

But ignoring laws is not what presidents promise to do when they are sworn in. Unless Obama wants to make the case that it’s unconstitutional, as some experts think, he should act (belatedly) to follow it or explain why the Libya operations don’t qualify. The latter would be a stretch, but maybe Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to elaborate on his theory that Libya is merely a “limited kinetic action,” not a war.

Still, the fault here is not all Obama’s. He has reason to think a president can get away with taking unilateral military action, since Congress is usually reluctant to object. It’s easier for lawmakers to carp than to take action that involves shouldering responsibility for the ensuing outcome.

Congress has another problem that the Tribune doesn’t address, which is the law itself.  Neither the executive nor legislative branches have been especially eager to test the constitutionality of the WPA in the courts.  Congress has mainly found it best to pretend that it’s constitutional but not push the notion, and Presidents to pretend it isn’t and not push the notion.  It’s similar to the approach taken by both on executive privilege, and for the same reason — neither wants a precedent set.  It allows for much more flexibility in negotiations.

Obama’s action threatens to upset this balance, but only if Congress decides to hold Obama accountable under the law.  It’s ironic, of course, that the first legal challenge to the WPA may come as a result of a Democratic President’s intransigence on seeking Congressional approval for a military adventure after the same man criticized his predecessor for adventurism that had Congressional approval, but that’s the Chicago Way.  The Tribune would like to see Congress take a page from Obama’s playbook and hold him accountable.  We’ll see whether Harry Reid thinks that’s as difficult as producing a budget.


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Congress is whistling past the graveyard on this one.

mizflame98 on May 23, 2011 at 3:38 PM

How many times do we have to say this?
Kinetic Military Actions are not wars!

Badger40 on May 23, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Obama is on the horns of a dilemma. As a candidate, he said the president does not have the power to go to war on his own except in cases of actual or likely attack

Like he’s ever cared about what he said as a candidate.

mankai on May 23, 2011 at 3:39 PM

BREAKING NEWS!!

War Power from Congress superseded by EXECUTIVE Power of President……..Film at 11.

PappyD61 on May 23, 2011 at 3:40 PM

“The Chicago Tribune is racist.” -NBC Meet the Press

portlandon on May 23, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Much better than you, you stinkin’ Irish pig.

mankai on May 23, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Laws, agreements, statutes are only as good as the enforcement capabilities. The current Repub leadership are sans a spine and the Dems would never embarass this pres. After all, if bho decides to ignore the WPA, then there are only two material methods to enforce…one is to withhold funding…but the Dems in the Senate will not go along…the other is to impeach….thats it from a practical side…so you know what is going to happen, bho will do whatever the heck he wants

georgealbert on May 23, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Obama is a ward heeler, no less, no more.

Schadenfreude on May 23, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Obama’s action threatens to upset this balance, but only if Congress decides to hold Obama accountable under the law.

You assume that the left, or the right, have steely ones.

Schadenfreude on May 23, 2011 at 3:48 PM

What is the use of repeating all that stuff, if you don’t explain it as you go on? It’s by far the most confusing thing I ever heard!

The Mock Turtle

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.

——–Alice

hillbillyjim on May 23, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Much better than you, you stinkin’ Irish pig.

mankai on May 23, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Huh???
O_o

[Error: Antecedent Not Found]

Mary in LA on May 23, 2011 at 3:49 PM

Like he’s ever cared about what he said (as a) candidate. yesterday, or 5 minutes ago

mankai on May 23, 2011 at 3:39 PM

And it DOESN’T matter. Not if the media gives a pass. Americans are mostly unaware of what’s going on. So, why bother? If I were Obama, after what I’d gotten away with…onward.. Who cares? Sad, but true.

bridgetown on May 23, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Dictator Zero is too busy trying to make the Blarney Stone stutter to waste time on that Constitution of those pesky plebes.

“Pass the me plate of taxpayer lobster there Moochelle and,…. garçon…. more primo Champagne from the Scare Force One cellars….”

viking01 on May 23, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Mary in LA on May 23, 2011 at 3:49 PM

0bama is playing up his Irish heritage today over in Ireland.
He decided to play up his ‘white’ half on this trip.

OmahaConservative on May 23, 2011 at 3:52 PM

*zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz* hey!!

hurumph……

Oh I say I say I say I do declare….

whats is your vote senator?

Present sir, Present!!!first last and always….Present…

a ship of fools.

imperator on May 23, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Much better than you, you stinkin’ Irish pig.

mankai on May 23, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Huh???
O_o

[Error: Antecedent Not Found]

Mary in LA on May 23, 2011 at 3:49 PM

Its a line from the movie “The Untouchables”

catmman on May 23, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Weird. He had no problem pestering Congress about Obamacare.

rogerb on May 23, 2011 at 3:55 PM

I can’t believe what this president gets away with because a bunch of corrupted politicians… If you don’t follow the rules you break down and chaos ensues. The Republicans better explain real soon why they are employing a do nothing strategy.

CCRWM on May 23, 2011 at 3:55 PM

Obama is a ward heeler, no less, no more.

Schadenfreude on May 23, 2011 at 3:45 PM

If only.

He is so much more:

۞ Ward heeler

۞ Community organizer

۞ Socialist with communist tendencies

۞ Liar

۞ Hater of all things Anglo

۞ Terrorist apologist

۞ The biggest flip-flopper in the history of flip-flopping.

۞ Foreign policy neophyte

۞ Domestic policy failure

۞ Economy killer……………

……………and so much more!!!

hillbillyjim on May 23, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Its as if Obama were acting nigh on ‘Untouchable’…

catmman on May 23, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Obama’s action threatens to upset this balance, but only if Congress decides to hold Obama accountable under the law.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAWOOO-EEEEE (catching my breath)HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA

GrannyDee on May 23, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Barry’s from the Moneygall O’Boobas, huh?

Akzed on May 23, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Excellent pic and sub line

Heh

cmsinaz on May 23, 2011 at 3:58 PM

Mary in LA on May 23, 2011 at 3:49 PM

Its a line from the movie “The Untouchables”

catmman on May 23, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Yes.

0bama is playing up his Irish heritage today over in Ireland.
He decided to play up his ‘white’ half on this trip.

OmahaConservative on May 23, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Yes.

And since I’m an American of Italian descent, it seemed appropriate.

mankai on May 23, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Everyone is afraid to be called racist if they challenge fear leader

Cripe sakes does anyone have the cajones?

cmsinaz on May 23, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Hey, Obama is just acting like a neocon. He believes in neocon policy that America needs to fight in third world hellholes in order to _______ fill in the blank. Basically, he is Bush II as well as being Carter II. He is the worst of both worlds. If it costs money, if it costs America, he wants to go there.

keep the change on May 23, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Connery 2012.
ID-care what his politics are, he’d look & sound a lot better than what we’ve got right now.

Badger40 on May 23, 2011 at 4:02 PM

You’re not kidding OC, pathetic

Yes we can

Bleh

cmsinaz on May 23, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Everyone is afraid to be called racist if they challenge fear leader

Cripe sakes does anyone have the cajones?

cmsinaz on May 23, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Does calling him Jugeared Jesus count?

hillbillyjim on May 23, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Lol hilbilly, only if you have an R next to your name

cmsinaz on May 23, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Ha, they’re kidding – Obama cannot be caught in dilemma.

He’s a relativist(that’s a college word meaning liar folks.)He owns the media which will openly persecute anuyone who points out his BS and beside: hypocrisy is the liberals badge of honor.

The only folks who use logic and morality ain’t Democrats. They have nothing to betray by being on both sides of an issue -because everyone knows they don’t really believe a word they’re saying.

Besides, they’re talking about a candidate -candidates must lie to get elected – tell us what we want to hear (free lunch -free sex etc) It’s the American way!

Don L on May 23, 2011 at 4:06 PM

OT: Lou Dobbs just trashed Bibi on twitter.

andy85719 on May 23, 2011 at 4:10 PM

I hear crossing our borders is illegal, too…

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on May 23, 2011 at 4:13 PM

If whatever law or policy is in Obama’s way, he just ignores it…what are you going to do? He won!

right2bright on May 23, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Besides, they’re talking about a candidate -candidates must lie to get elected – tell us what we want to hear (free lunch -free sex etc) It’s the American way!

Don L on May 23, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Huh, what? Free sex? You have my attention. /

rmel80 on May 23, 2011 at 4:19 PM

The Trib would be better off explaining away Barry’s hypocrisy.

GarandFan on May 23, 2011 at 4:44 PM

The War Powers act expicitily says that it only applies to Republicans or any other non-liberal party. It is just written in a small font and most people never see it.

jeffn21 on May 23, 2011 at 4:46 PM

The Libyan operation has been a violation of the War Powers Act from the beginning

The resolution was adopted in the form of a United States Congress joint resolution; this provides that the President can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad only by authorization of Congress or in case of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”

since there was no national emergency created by an attack on the US, its possessions or it’s armed forces.

single stack on May 23, 2011 at 5:06 PM

there are only two material methods to enforce…one is to withhold funding…but the Dems in the Senate will not go along…the other is to impeach

Both controlled by the House. Boehner, where are you?

IrishEyes on May 23, 2011 at 5:11 PM

And since I’m an American of Italian descent, it seemed appropriate.

mankai on May 23, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Since I’m an American of Irish descent, I resent … Obummer suddenly “finding his Irish roots”. Some Irish enclave in … Kenya? Not that I’m skeptical or anything.

IrishEyes on May 23, 2011 at 5:15 PM

georgealbert,

There is a third option. Read sections 1542-44 of the WPA. As it is the Congress is in contempt of itself. The WPA proscribes a defined process, it is being ignored. Ryan could if he had the guts call for all business in the Senate to come to a grinding halt. That too is in the WPA. Invoked, it trumps all other business till processed.

That is why I think Reid does not want to even touch it.

Dr. Dog on May 23, 2011 at 5:28 PM

Still, the fault here is not all Obama’s. He has reason to think a president can get away with taking unilateral military action, since Congress is usually reluctant to object.

Isn’t that kind of the same logic that crooks use when committing a crime? They think they can get away with it so they do it?

albill on May 23, 2011 at 5:42 PM

The War Powers act expicitily says that it only applies to Republicans or any other non-liberal party. It is just written in a small font and most people never see it.

jeffn21 on May 23, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Hold it up to a mirror; the real intent is revealed. Also, if you can get an audio version, play it backwards…it says something like ” John and Ringo are homosxuals…start wars now…..redrum…..”

BobMbx on May 23, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Thanks, all! I’ve never seen The Untouchables… or any of the Godfather movies… or Deliverance… or any of the Dirty Harry movies… or Shane… or High Noon

But I have seen Liar, Liar (he’s in Ireland right now!)

:-)

Mary in LA on May 23, 2011 at 6:05 PM

Huh, what? Free s*x? You have my attention. /

rmel80 on May 23, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Um, if you have to pay for it, yer doin it rong!

;-)

Mary in LA on May 23, 2011 at 6:06 PM

— neither wants a precedent set.  It allows for much more flexibility in negotiations unconstitutional acts whenever and where ever they please on whatever subject they so well please…

There…fixed it for you.

Did we really think that the liberal media would keep “St. Obamamuckraker” accountable for his deeds?

By the Tribune’s same argument then, the Democrat controlled congress should’ve kept Bush in line then too….No?

Or am I missing something here?

Mcguyver on May 23, 2011 at 6:19 PM

Thanks, all! I’ve never seen The Untouchables… or any of the Godfather movies… or Deliverance… or any of the Dirty Harry movies… or Shane… or High Noon…

But I have seen Liar, Liar (he’s in Ireland right now!)

:-)

Mary in LA on May 23, 2011 at 6:05 PM

You sure you’re an American?

mankai on May 23, 2011 at 6:51 PM

You sure you’re an American?

mankai on May 23, 2011 at 6:51 PM

Wanna see my birth certificate? ;-)

Mary in LA on May 23, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Thanks, all! I’ve never seen The Untouchables… or any of the Godfather movies… or Deliverance… or any of the Dirty Harry movies… or Shane… or High Noon…

But I have seen Liar, Liar (he’s in Ireland right now!)

:-)

Mary in LA on May 23, 2011 at 6:05 PM

Step into my office……….YOU’RE F’in FIRED!

VikingGoneWild on May 23, 2011 at 7:16 PM

This is a non-story
1. It will most likely be over shortly.
2. France, Briton and Italy will go it a lone.
3. The Prez can always support number 2 without being involved directly in Libia.
4. Ignore congress they can’t and/or do anything anyway.

More important problems are a foot like the mudreious out of control ATF.

jpcpt03 on May 23, 2011 at 7:17 PM

Unless Obama wants to violate the US Constitution, he must withdraw the troops. If Congress does not act, then there is no congressional authorization. Period.

pedestrian on May 23, 2011 at 7:22 PM

take another drink or two, things look better when your through…

equanimous on May 23, 2011 at 7:25 PM

Step into my office……….YOU’RE F’in FIRED!

VikingGoneWild on May 23, 2011 at 7:16 PM

Cool! Funemployment! Now I’ll finally have enough free time to catch up on all the movies I’ve missed. :-)

Mary in LA on May 23, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Mary in LA on May 23, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Well I figured a movie reference with your name in it would be appropriate.

Check out The Godfather at a minimum.

VikingGoneWild on May 23, 2011 at 7:34 PM

Well I figured a movie reference with your name in it would be appropriate.

Okay, but now I have to figure out which movie that is…
There’s Something About Mary?
Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry?
Any of the 14 movies on IMDB with “Mary” as their title?

C’mon, help me out here!

Check out The Godfather at a minimum.

VikingGoneWild on May 23, 2011 at 7:34 PM

That one is on my list as part of the personal cultural literacy program my loving hubby has set up for me. ;-)

Mary in LA on May 23, 2011 at 7:50 PM

AP news Flash date line Dec 12 2015 The SCOTUS ruled today that since congress ignored Pres. Obama’s blatant disregard of the war powers act during the Libya intrusion , that they could not enforce it against Pres. Palin.

BruceB on May 23, 2011 at 8:46 PM

Well I figured a movie reference with your name in it would be appropriate.

Okay, but now I have to figure out which movie that is…
There’s Something About Mary?
Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry?
Any of the 14 movies on IMDB with “Mary” as their title?

C’mon, help me out here!

You are correct….. There’s Something About Mary

Hitchhiker: Step into my office!
Ted: Why?
Hitchhiker: Cause you’re f’ing fired!

Check out The Godfather at a minimum.

VikingGoneWild on May 23, 2011 at 7:34 PM

That one is on my list as part of the personal cultural literacy program my loving hubby has set up for me. ;-)

Mary in LA on May 23, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Looks like you got a great hubby! Now take one night this week and watch it.

VikingGoneWild on May 23, 2011 at 9:52 PM

The latter would be a stretch, but maybe Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to elaborate on his theory that Libya is merely a “limited kinetic action,” not a war.

Tell that to Mr. Kadaffi. If I were the Libyan Government, I’d be looking for ways to carry the war to my enemies. Whether Mr. Obama thinks it’s a war or not is moot. If his enemy thinks it is — it is.

unclesmrgol on May 23, 2011 at 10:24 PM

The Tribune would like to see Congress take a page from Obama’s playbook and hold him accountable.

Ed, I have a problem with this phrase. I don’t believe Obama has ever held anyone accountable–unless you are referring to the voters of red states.

As C-in-C he had to relieve McCrystal, and he has thrown numerous people under the bus for expediency, but as Incompetent-Manager-in-Chief he has not held any of his employees accountable for their actions.

In fact, as Critic-in-Chief during the Bush years, he may have tried to hold Bush accountable but he of all people didn’t have the authority. All he could do was demand the media to repeatedly remind the American people to hold Bush’s party accountable at the next election.

He did, it did and they did.

We need to be doing the same thing. When the MSM is celebrating Obama’s larking around the world in order to return to his Irish roots while in the middle of his re-election campaign while Americans are miserable and suffering, our elected officials are not doing enough get Americans to hold him accountable next fall.

rwenger43 on May 23, 2011 at 11:45 PM

Thank you Chicago Tribune for being the only news media outlet to see Obama’s action with Libya for what it is. I have veen saying since day one he was wrong.

old war horse on May 24, 2011 at 12:15 AM

Thank you Chicago Tribune for being the only news media outlet to see Obama’s action with Libya for what it is. I have veen saying since day one he was wrong.

old war horse on May 24, 2011 at 12:15 AM

Wow. The Lib-une is finally on the side of what’s right.
I’m stunned.
///

annoyinglittletwerp on May 24, 2011 at 12:52 AM

I reiterate for the umpteenthousandth time, the WPA does not figleaf Obama’s action in the least. There was no imminent or actual attack on the US. Aside from Congressional action that is the only way the WPA would allow it.

Without the WPA what Obama did is VERY clearly unconstitutional. The Constitution does not permit the President to engage our soldiers in any form of attack without action by the House of representatives to either declare war or authorize spending and deployment. In the latter case the Senate must concur.

This should become a major campaign issue. “President Obama shreds the Constitution.”

{^_^}

herself on May 24, 2011 at 1:51 PM