Obama, the “Constitutional scholar” vs. Obama the CINC
posted at 10:41 am on August 28, 2013 by Bruce McQuain
As our Nobel Peace Prize winning president heads toward his third war, it’s useful to review his words of the past and compare them to his actions of today.
[Candidate Obama] responded in writing to a series of questions regarding executive power from Charlie Savage, then of The Boston Globe:
Q. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)
OBAMA: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent.;
In those days, Mr. Obama enjoyed passing himself off as a “Constitutional scholar”. His statement above isn’t equivocal or nuanced. It’s a statement that clearly claims that what he is about to do as Obama the CINC is not authorized by the Constitution. Yet to watch the White House spin this, not only is he authorized, but he’s entitled to do it whenever he feels it necessary.
By the way, he wasn’t the only one making this argument:
Vice President Joe Biden, who voted for the Iraq War, agreed with Obama.
“The president has no constitutional authority to take this country to war… unless we’re attacked or unless there is proof that we are about to be attacked,” Biden said in 2007.
Biden, then a Democratic senator from Delaware, suggested presidential war-making was an impeachable offense.
Oh my, the “i” word. I thought only GOPers slung that word around. Another myth busted.
The point, of course, is that what Candidate Obama said was supposed to indicate how he would do things when he took office. It was the whole purpose of the question. To sound the man out about how he would approach a similar situation and what would guide his decision. It was to let the voting public know where he stood on such matters.
We were all supposed to be convinced by his answer that he’d be guided by the Constitution and would rein in the use of “executive power”. Subsequent history with Obama and his actions indicates we should believe very little of what the man says. He has, time and time again, chosen to expand executive power – something he railed against in his candidacy – instead of doing the hard work of persuading and working with Congress to accept his agenda.
This situation with Syria is just more of the same. The hypocrisy is stunning but really nothing unusual in politics today. But it does leave one wondering what the man really, honestly believes and what principles guide him when he makes decisions. At this point, the interim conclusion must be “not much”.