If Congress won’t punish Obama for defying it on Syria, they should refuse to vote

posted at 11:21 am on September 5, 2013 by Allahpundit

A thought while we wait for the next breathless whip count from the House: What’s the point of voting on Syria if O’s free to disregard the result? Congress isn’t an advisory body like the National Security Council. They’re an equal branch, empowered constitutionally to declare war and theoretically designed to check executive power. That leaves them only two semi-dignified options here. One: Boehner can agree to hold a vote on the condition that if Obama, having conceded Congress’s role in this, then defies them, they’ll move to punish him somehow. Whether that means a court challenge, a formal censure stating that he’s in violation of the Constitution, or full-on impeachment is up to the leadership. But there needs to be some penalty. Two: If the leadership senses that there’s no majority willing to punish Obama, then the House simply shouldn’t vote. Even among Republicans, there are probably strong-form hawks who believe O has authority as commander-in-chief to attack an enemy unilaterally; they might refuse to punish him for defying Congress on those grounds, which is the core of the debate over the War Powers Act. Boehner should do a head count in advance and, if he can’t get to 218 in favor of penalizing O, he should announce that he won’t bring a Syria resolution to the floor. Don’t dignify Obama’s charade, in which congressional approval counts but congressional disapproval doesn’t, by participating in it. A vote on war by the national legislature either means something or it doesn’t.

The response to this, I assume, will be that it inadvertently plays into Obama’s hands. O, having shown his supposed magnanimity in consulting Congress, can now bomb away on grounds that John Boehner spurned him when he sought input from Congress. Boehner would, the argument goes, actually be sparing Obama the political difficulty of attacking after Congress has said no. But what’s the alternative? If the House votes no and O attacks anyway with impunity, the precedent will be set that the president doesn’t need to come to Congress anymore in matters of war (unless, maybe, he anticipates boots on the ground). In fact, after this fiasco, it’s a lead-pipe cinch that the president won’t come to Congress anymore even if O ends up prevailing narrowly in the House. It’s simply too risky for him to seek approval in advance. If Congress is serious about asserting its warmaking power, this is the best chance they’ll have for a long time to come. O put them in a spotlight because he got cold feet about the attack; now they can exploit it by setting their own precedent of insisting that he respect their wishes upon penalty of … something.

But what penalty? A court challenge won’t work. No federal judge is going to tell the C-in-C to cancel airstrikes in the works on grounds that only Congress has the power to declare war. The suit will be dismissed as a “political question” to be handled by the voters next year. A censure resolution might pass the House but Democratic hacks in the Senate will kill it. The nuclear option is impeachment, which would also be defeated in the Senate but would send a profound — and newsworthy — signal of disapproval once it passed the House. Would Republicans risk doing something like that, though, even to defend Congress’s constitutional prerogatives? The standard line when an angry conservative constituent asks Ted Cruz or some Republican backbencher to impeach Obama is that it’s pointless to try given the Democratic majority in the Senate. Harry Reid and company would never vote to remove him. And of course it’s hugely risky for the GOP at the polls if the public sides with O over them; one of the lessons they learned from the Clinton years is that impeachment, like shutting down the government, can backfire. Besides, GOP leaders would say, Obama technically hasn’t qualified for impeachment by defying Congress on war. He’s affronted checks and balances and unconstitutionally arrogated the warmaking power to himself, but that’s not a “high crime or misdemeanor” under any criminal statute. Ultimately, I think, they’d chicken out and all we’d get are solemn statements of disapproval at the podium. And knowing that, without assurances from O that he’ll respect Congress’s wishes, Boehner should pull the plug.

But not just yet. It’s time to seek those assurances first. Let’s make The One, whose fans love to remind you that he’s a con law professor, squirm over why it’s important to have the people’s representatives weigh in here but not so important that their consensus opinion should decide how America acts. And then let’s see if our friends in the media start asking House and Senate Democrats what they think should happen if O ignores a “no” vote in Congress. They’d see that, correctly, as a grave constitutional crisis if a Republican president did it. Time for them to squirm a little too.


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Let’s ask all the leftist anti-war types what they think about this impending military attack, of course we have to find one of them first and that could take a while, but still, we need to do it for the poor brown children of Syria.

Bishop on September 5, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Refuse to vote? Can’t they just follow Barry’s sterling example when he was a senator and just vote “Present”?

hawkeye54 on September 5, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Allahpundit takes a stand. Love it!

Wonderful post.

bluegill on September 5, 2013 at 11:27 AM

But not just yet. It’s time to seek those assurances first. Let’s make The One, whose fans love to remind you that he’s a con law professor, squirm over why it’s important to have the people’s representatives weigh in here but not so important that their consensus opinion should decide how America acts. And then let’s see if our friends in the media start asking House and Senate Democrats what they think should happen if O ignores a “no” vote in Congress. They’d see that, correctly, as a grave constitutional crisis if a Republican president did it. Time for them to squirm a little too.

Damn right!

bluegill on September 5, 2013 at 11:28 AM

I am their King. They are my peasants.

Mel Brooks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dk47saogI8o

patman77 on September 5, 2013 at 11:29 AM

I don’t believe the Ditherer-in-Chief really wants to go to war. The move to get Congressional approval is just an out.

JimK on September 5, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Penalties? If the President defies a majority House vote opposing Syrian intervention and attacks Syria anyway, the House can refuse to play and just shut it all down. Congress does control the purse strings, right? And I’m not talking about just military purse strings, either. I’m talking about all of it, everything, starting with Obama’s golf cart rental fee. Shut it down, lock it up, put out the CLOSED sign.

If the power of the purse is the only viable weapon, use it.

troyriser_gopftw on September 5, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Let’s ask all the leftist anti-war types what they think about this impending military attack, of course we have to find one of them first and that could take a while, but still, we need to do it for the poor brown children of Syria.

A lot of ‘em are only anti-war when a warmongering imperialist Republican seeking conquest and greedily exploiting the resources of the conquered. A dem ushering us into war is done nobly for a just cause in coming to the aid of an oppressed people and crushing tyrany.

hawkeye54 on September 5, 2013 at 11:31 AM

I don’t believe the Ditherer-in-Chief really wants to go to war. The move to get Congressional approval is just an out.

JimK on September 5, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Barry, upon getting CONgressional approval, gets the war started and it goes badly: “Well, ya know, I really didn’t want to do it, tried to avoid it, but the GOP in congress forced me to.”

hawkeye54 on September 5, 2013 at 11:33 AM

They’ll be called racists and they are to squishy to stand up to the dems and lsm

cmsinaz on September 5, 2013 at 11:33 AM

The suit will be dismissed as a “political question” to be handled by the voters next year.

The populace doesn’t always pay attention to politics, and is definitely getting dumbed down. But this wouldn’t be the worst outcome: this is a winning issue for Republicans if they choose to use it. Therefore they won’t. Maybe Rand Paul will, and a few others.

Fenris on September 5, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Dem president OK
Gop president impeachment

We know how the lsm will react

cmsinaz on September 5, 2013 at 11:35 AM

David Burge ‏@iowahawkblog 1h

@hughhewitt Who wins in an all-out war to the death between Assad & Al-Qaeda? Everybody.

davidk on September 5, 2013 at 11:36 AM

All nice thoughts, but the MSM will never ask the Ds tough questions.

As it is, we are lucky that the MSM seems to agree that it is on Pelosi’s shoulders to deliver the votes, not Boehner’s.

The important point, win or lose in the House, is to leave Obama politically naked and impotent as a consequence of this vote. Make him squander every last ounce of political capital he has.

matthew8787 on September 5, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Dem president OK
Gop president impeachment

We know how the lsm will react

cmsinaz on September 5, 2013 at 11:35 AM

“He’s trying.”

davidk on September 5, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Allah,

When the Founders put “high crime and misdemeanor” in the Constitution, they also meant failing to uphold the requirements of a political office as required by the Constitution. In the Founders’ eyes, impeachment and removal from office was the political method to “punish” a office holder for either committing a criminal offense or violating the oath of office.

For example, if the President declared all acts of Congress void and refused to “faithfully execute” them, it would be an impeachable offense, but not a criminal offense.

We then see that BHO has committed a number of impeachable offenses. But I agree with others that until he commits a criminal offense or one so un-Constitutional, there aren’t the votes in the Senate to remove him from office. The liberal Senators are far to partisan and would never convict him and remove him from office.

GAlpha10 on September 5, 2013 at 11:36 AM

A pretty good reminder of the Obama doctrine: “I’ll give you the opportunity to agree with me.”

Barnestormer on September 5, 2013 at 11:36 AM

If it is such an all-out emergency, then Obama should have asked Boehner and Reid to get the House and Senate back last Sunday for a vote.

Since Obama doesn’t see it as that critical, that vital, then, yes, don’t even bother to vote on a CAUF. Go right back to hearings on the IRS, Benghazi, F&F, and all the rest of it. Much of the accountability that the Legislative Branch can do has been frittered away and the Power of the Pursestrings have not been deployed.

It isn’t taking Obama to court or impeaching him that will shake things up: that will just get you more partisanship, which leads to worse ends.

Just dry up funding for select parts of the government and make Obama defend their activities. If the IRS can’t be bothered to obey the law, then just put them on a skeleton diet and ask the American People to pay what they think they can afford in taxes. State Dept. needs a similar treatment, but there it is just killing funding for things like the UN and Obama pet projects as well as reducing staffing to whatever it is the Marines contribute, one Ambassador and a secretary. Let Obama tell us why he needs more staff when the staff he has appears to be incompetent.

Follow the money.

Not just forward, but backwards.

And that gets you to the House.

ajacksonian on September 5, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Yep, the stalwart representatives of the people will surely hold Dog Eater accountable, well unless the “optics” are bad and too many Congressmen start to worry about their cushy jobs on the public teat.

Which do you think will happen if Bark goes his own way?

Bishop on September 5, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Time for them to squirm a little too.

A quality pastime no doubt.

Bmore on September 5, 2013 at 11:38 AM

…theoretically designed to check executive power.

That’s the kicker, isn’t it. They refuse to do that part of their job and let Obama get away with anything he wants. They’ll never hold him accountable for his unconstitutional acts. Ignoring congress and bombing (or whatever) Syria will just be another one.

sadatoni on September 5, 2013 at 11:38 AM

David Burge ‏@iowahawkblog 28s

Now we know what Russia did with Hillary’s reset button http://washington.cbslocal.com/2013/09/05/russia-warns-of-nuclear-disaster-if-syria-is-hit/#.Uiij_YeHz7U.twitter

davidk on September 5, 2013 at 11:38 AM

troyriser_gopftw on September 5, 2013 at 11:31 AM,

I’d agree, but do you really think BHO pays for golf. Fat chance. He’s always “comp’ed” or someone else pays. The “One” cannot be expect to pay for his own golf, now can he?

GAlpha10 on September 5, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Every time someone mentions Congress punishing obozo Boehner sheds a tear.

Flange on September 5, 2013 at 11:39 AM

“Smart Power” is sooooooo ‘smart’.

Let’s recall how Andrew Sullivan hyperventilated about how Obama would calm anti-American tensions in the Middle East just by showing his face:

Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.

The other obvious advantage that Obama has in facing the world and our enemies is his record on the Iraq War. He is the only major candidate to have clearly opposed it from the start. Whoever is in office in January 2009 will be tasked with redeploying forces in and out of Iraq, negotiating with neighboring states, engaging America’s estranged allies, tamping down regional violence. Obama’s interlocutors in Iraq and the Middle East would know that he never had suspicious motives toward Iraq, has no interest in occupying it indefinitely, and foresaw more clearly than most Americans the baleful consequences of long-term occupation.

This was not some drunken screed (as far as we know); this was a cover piece inThe Atlantic magazine. The chattering classes considered this serious thought back in December 2007. Events have proven that ultimately, the president’s hue and middle name don’t really matter. Anti-Americanism is driven by the United States’s role in the world as a secular, Judeo-Christian, economic, cultural, and military superpower and the fact that so many other nations and cultures require a scapegoat, rival, or demon figure.

Schadenfreude on September 5, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Let’s ask all the leftist anti-war types what they think about this impending military attack, of course we have to find one of them first and that could take a while, but still, we need to do it for the poor brown children of Syria.

Bishop on September 5, 2013 at 11:26 AM

You noticed how silent the usually vocal liberal trolls are of late? I’m guessing even they can’t or won’t defend the possibilty of unjust warfare in Syria.

My Congressman is for bombing Syria for no other reason than Obama wants it done. He claims that Obama should have just gone ahead and done it (translation, his staff is being innundated with calls against the royal decree). Did I mention that my Congressman is a worthless drunk tool?

Happy Nomad on September 5, 2013 at 11:39 AM

I want their votes recorded.
not voting is taking cowards way out and is just political gamesmanship.
they need to suck it up and vote.

dmacleo on September 5, 2013 at 11:39 AM

This whole Syria mess is just a ruse to keep Benghazi, NSA, IRS, Obamacare, debt ceiling, etc off the front pages for a couple weeks. It’s working!!!

PaddyORyan on September 5, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Every time someone mentions Congress punishing obozo Boehner sheds a tear.

Flange on September 5, 2013 at 11:39 AM

You haven’t seen anything like the crying that is going to happen when the GOP kicks the orange one out of his sweet leadership position. And, IMO, there will be a revolt if Boehner delivers the House to Obama over this ill-advised and unjust war.

Happy Nomad on September 5, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Infant Innocence by A.E. Housman, modified for today:

“The grizzly Russian bear is huge and wild,
He has devoured the infant child,
The infant child is not aware
It has been eaten by the bear.”

Schadenfreude on September 5, 2013 at 11:41 AM

When the Founders put “high crime and misdemeanor” in the Constitution…

GAlpha10 on September 5, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Yup, impeachment can be for both high crimes and misdemeanors. Obama has committed plenty of the latter. But people always seem to focus on whether something rises to a high crime.

Fenris on September 5, 2013 at 11:42 AM

David Burge ‏@iowahawkblog 1h

@hughhewitt Who wins in an all-out war to the death between Assad & Al-Qaeda? Everybody.

davidk on September 5, 2013 at 11:36 AM

.
If we can evacuate all of the ‘inoccent victims’, and effectively turn Syria into “Thunderdome”, I say go for it.

listens2glenn on September 5, 2013 at 11:43 AM

I want their votes recorded.
not voting is taking cowards way out and is just political gamesmanship.
they need to suck it up and vote.

dmacleo on September 5, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Voting “present” is truly cowardly. An affirmative vote means people are going to die, lives destroyed, buildings damaged. No politician should be sitting on the fence about the issue.

Happy Nomad on September 5, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Barry, upon getting CONgressional approval, gets the war started and it goes badly: “Well, ya know, I really didn’t want to do it, tried to avoid it, but the GOP in congress forced me to.”

hawkeye54 on September 5, 2013 at 11:33 AM

^This. But that should surprise no one. He won’t take responsibility for anything.

Hill60 on September 5, 2013 at 11:43 AM

ABSTAIN!

Until now, Conservatives could not leverage the media. Here may be the best opportunity to.

Quetzal on September 5, 2013 at 11:44 AM

If only Dingy Harry weren’t so partisan, Congress might be able to assert its co-equal status. Of course, that would mean Bo(eh)ner would have to step up, and he’s deathly afraid of the Presstitute Organs’ shadows.

Steve Eggleston on September 5, 2013 at 11:45 AM

AP, One thing you might have overlooked. If Congress votes No, then all orders coming from the President one can deem illegal. What happens when the officers refuse to carry out the orders. That would be even more humiliating to the One. It would be an interesting court case. I think the military members who refuse to follow the orders to bomb Syria would have the law on their side on this one.

On the other hand, following orders might subject the military members to being charged with a war crime. Example, if I was ordered by my commander to kill every man, woman, and child in My Lai, what would I do? Follow orders blindly and be called a hero by all the democrats, or actually try to stop the massacre and be call a traitor?

PrettyD_Vicious on September 5, 2013 at 11:48 AM

He’s affronted checks and balances and unconstitutionally arrogated the warmaking power to himself, but that’s not a “high crime or misdemeanor” under any criminal statute.

Meaning of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”

Dusty on September 5, 2013 at 11:49 AM

obama, the eternal eunuchy weasel, hides behind horse’s azz Kerry and the stupid congress.

Schadenfreude on September 5, 2013 at 11:51 AM

So I see via Drudge that Putin is the darling of the Swedish summit… … Way to go Obama….

sandee on September 5, 2013 at 11:51 AM

We then see that BHO has committed a number of impeachable offenses. But I agree with others that until he commits a criminal offense or one so un-Constitutional, there aren’t the votes in the Senate to remove him from office. The liberal Senators are far to partisan and would never convict him and remove him from office.

GAlpha10 on September 5, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Point of order – the Rats steadfastly refused to consider criminality impeachable, at least with respect to one of their own.

Steve Eggleston on September 5, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Kerry looks/acts like a horse’s azz.

The entire world has two turds on display, in full view.

Schadenfreude on September 5, 2013 at 11:53 AM

6 days before 9/11, and Obama wants us to intervene in Syria on behalf of the same Terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans.

There’s somthing awfuwwy scwewy goin’ on awound heah.

kingsjester on September 5, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Congress isn’t an advisory body like the National Security Council. They’re an equal branch, empowered constitutionally to declare war and theoretically designed to check executive power.

Yeah…except Congress blurred the lines a long time ago and now we are dealing with the result.

An Impotent cynical vichy congress that aids and abets an incompetent narcissistic and despotic buffoon in the executive.

Forward!

workingclass artist on September 5, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Penalties? If the President defies a majority House vote opposing Syrian intervention and attacks Syria anyway, the House can refuse to play and just shut it all down. Congress does control the purse strings, right? And I’m not talking about just military purse strings, either. I’m talking about all of it, everything, starting with Obama’s golf cart rental fee. Shut it down, lock it up, put out the CLOSED sign.

If the power of the purse is the only viable weapon, use it.

troyriser_gopftw on September 5, 2013 at 11:31 AM

What? Display a backbone? Are you daft?

/

As the Beach Boys song said, wouldn’t it be nice if …

platypus on September 5, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Happy Nomad on September 5, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Didn’t Le Petit Orange already announce he was done after the midterm elections?

Flange on September 5, 2013 at 11:54 AM

What a silly conversation. Congress hasn’t the will or imagination to do anything of the sort. Obama is playing them and they haven’t a clue and won’t get one.

rrpjr on September 5, 2013 at 11:54 AM

To restate the problem with AP’s position (which he hints at), the question then shifts from “do we want war with Syria?,” which is a winner for the GOP, to “do we support our first black president?,” which isn’t.

Better to say No! in the House and let the President live with the consequences. The President spurning Congress after asking for its approval will send a powerful message in itself, without any help from punditry.

bobs1196 on September 5, 2013 at 11:56 AM

If it looks like it will pass the House, just all Republicans vote “Present”.

Say what Cruz said, “We should be Al-Queda’s air force”. Simple, to the point, VOTE NO at best or “present” at worse.

GardenGnome on September 5, 2013 at 11:56 AM

The only thing left for this Saturday Night Live skit is for Obama to announce Roseann Barr will be singing the Natl Anthem on the USS Nimitz with the Village People dancing in the background just prior to the first missile launch…

hillsoftx on September 5, 2013 at 11:57 AM

They should give him the all clear. Foreign policy and war-making are traditionally the president’s responsibilities. Then he will have nowhere to hide and no one to blame.

As far as “smart’ foreign policy goes, what kind of strategic genius withdraws all our troops from Iraq a year and a half before going to war next door? We keep troops in theaters like Korea and Japan to support our friends and deter our enemies. It also gives us the power to act when we need to.

20 – 30,000 US troops in Iraq would come in really useful right now. Assad and Iran would have been a lot more cautious. We could have set up a protected area for refugees and the resistance. Neighboring countries like Jordan, Turkey and Israel would have been more likely to help. And a bombing campaign would have been a lot easier. In truth, we should have intervened two years ago. Iraq would be more stable too.

This is what narcissistic cluelessness and incompetence looks like. A lot of people will die as a result and a whole region destabilized.

breffnian on September 5, 2013 at 11:58 AM

Didn’t Le Petit Orange already announce he was done after the midterm elections?

Flange on September 5, 2013 at 11:54 AM

That came from an unnamed staff member. Three more years of the muppet-colored crybaby? Not good enough.

Happy Nomad on September 5, 2013 at 12:00 PM

If the House votes no and O attacks anyway with impunity, the precedent will be set that the president doesn’t need to come to Congress anymore

You can stop right there. This is what Dear Liar wants. A Congress that is a good dog when it does what he wants and something he can ignore when it doesn’t. It’s what all dictators want. Hell, North Korea and the old Soviet Union have parliaments. Which vote 100% for whatever the ruler wants.

rbj on September 5, 2013 at 12:00 PM

What’s the point of voting on Syria if O’s free to disregard the result?

First, delay, delay, delay.

Second, to give Teh One an excuse for not following through on his red line threat if he decides to use it.

Third, if he does use it as an excuse he can blame Congress for whatever bad happens in Syria. His minions are already trying to blame Bush for opposition to Teh One’s brilliant super secret plan for Syria. He could then also blame the Republicans in Congress.

Comrade O is always playing the blame game.

farsighted on September 5, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Still wondering what Assad was trying to accomplish when he used the nerve gas.

Did he aim at a Syrian resistance headquarters?

Why have we heard nothing about the area that was bombed and who lives(ed) there?

Were the pictures we saw of dead people just the collateral damage or were they the target, and if they were the target, to what end?

Gassing civilians doesn’t seem to have much military value.

Meremortal on September 5, 2013 at 12:00 PM

If it is such an all-out emergency, then Obama should have asked Boehner and Reid to get the House and Senate back last Sunday for a vote.

Just to be kind of pedantic (sorry), Obama theoretically could demand the Congress come back into session, as he legitimately has the Constitutional power to do so. In fact, I’m unsure why he hasn’t done this, considering how important it is.

Article II, Section 3:

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Of course, considering that this section also tells him he has to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”, I can understand where he would have just missed it. So I went ahead and struck it out, just for our Dear Leader.

Andy in Colorado on September 5, 2013 at 12:00 PM

I want their votes recorded.
not voting is taking cowards way out and is just political gamesmanship.
they need to suck it up and vote.

dmacleo on September 5, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Voting “present” is truly cowardly. An affirmative vote means people are going to die, lives destroyed, buildings damaged. No politician should be sitting on the fence about the issue.

Happy Nomad on September 5, 2013 at 11:43 AM

I agree that “present” is the coward’s way out. But voting “no”

means people are going to die, lives destroyed, buildings damaged.

Rock and hard place.

(For the record, I would vote no.)

davidk on September 5, 2013 at 12:01 PM

….unsure why he hasn’t done this, considering how important [the issue of Syria] is.

Wanted to clarify.

Andy in Colorado on September 5, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Again, with the debt ceiling debate coming up, it’s pretty easy to punish Obama especially if a continuing resolution gets tied to Syria: defund Obamacare.

Stoic Patriot on September 5, 2013 at 12:03 PM

AP muses:

Congress isn’t an advisory body like the National Security Council. They’re an equal branch, empowered constitutionally to declare war and theoretically designed to check executive power.

Obama is treating Congress like a Simpson-Bowles commission. Dog and pony show.

Paul-Cincy on September 5, 2013 at 12:03 PM

If we can evacuate all of the ‘inoccent victims’, and effectively turn Syria into “Thunderdome”, I say go for it.

listens2glenn on September 5, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Sure…I’m suppose Jordan is all in for that?

workingclass artist on September 5, 2013 at 12:03 PM

But I wouldsupport the Houses’s abstention, dumping the whole mess back in obama’s lap.

He got himself into this horrible dilemma.

davidk on September 5, 2013 at 12:04 PM

BTW- Why has Congress turned this into a bomb/ no bomb issue? There are other ways to send a message to Syria without having to kill people. Waging an unjust war seems about as far from American values as you can get and all the anti-war folks who said “that’s okay” when protesting going into Afghanistan following the deaths of 3000 Americans are fine with killing a bunch of Syrians because of a gas attack whose perpetrator remains unclear. Just sayin’

Happy Nomad on September 5, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Schadenfreude on September 5, 2013 at 11:53 AM

So very schadenfreudig schadenfreude :)!!!!

Scrumpy on September 5, 2013 at 12:08 PM

But I would support the Houses’s abstention, dumping the whole mess back in obama’s lap.

He got himself into this horrible dilemma.

davidk on September 5, 2013 at 12:04 PM

An appealing idea. The problem is, Syria is a mess, our position on Syria is a mess, and now our governance is a mess. It’s so screwed up. With an abstention, maybe there’s some clarity there, some simplicity too. I don’t know how anyone can make a good decision here.

Paul-Cincy on September 5, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Just to be kind of pedantic (sorry), Obama theoretically could demand the Congress come back into session, as he legitimately has the Constitutional power to do so. In fact, I’m unsure why he hasn’t done this, considering how important it is.

It’s really not a national security imperative like were Dec. 7 and Sept. 11. The point of bombing Syria is more to protect Obama from mockery and to save his political hide, as has been said by Administration people and the liberal media. Plus the RINOs like McCain trying to appear ‘tough’ and ‘for America’, maybe in hope of deflecting the amnesty issue from their piss-poor advocacy of it.

It’s all about Obama and Democrat ‘cred’. Seriously — do we want Americans killing Syrians, because Syrians killing Syrians is okay only within certain limits?

Liam on September 5, 2013 at 12:11 PM

GOP response in my make believe world: “A Democratic Administration which totally botched Libya, then lied their asses off, cannot be trusted to bomb another Muslim country.”

BigAlSouth on September 5, 2013 at 12:11 PM

I’m still hoping there is a throw down between Obama and Putin at the G20.

Blake on September 5, 2013 at 12:13 PM

But I wouldsupport the Houses’s abstention, dumping the whole mess back in obama’s lap.

He got himself into this horrible dilemma.

davidk on September 5, 2013 at 12:04 PM

I disagree with abstaining. As a proud conservative, I want Congress to do their job- which includes actually voting on tough issues. I also want every single member in Congress on the record as to whether or not they support killing Syrians.

Step one in pointing out to LIVs that Obama’s red line comments are fully behind why this feckless administration is suddenly hawkish.

Happy Nomad on September 5, 2013 at 12:14 PM

I’m still hoping there is a throw down between Obama and Putin at the G20.

Blake on September 5, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Sorry but that’s the G19 and Obama. Only world leaders get counted.

Happy Nomad on September 5, 2013 at 12:15 PM

I’m still hoping there is a throw down between Obama and Putin at the G20.

Blake on September 5, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Obama to challenge Vlad to a Pirogi and Borscht throw-down? Because I don’t think Obama could win a battle of wits.

oldroy on September 5, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Every time someone mentions Congress punishing obozo Boehner sheds a tear.

Flange on September 5, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Maybe he’ll dehydrate and turn into a pile of dusty sh!t.

katy the mean old lady on September 5, 2013 at 12:19 PM

There are other options of course as well.

The Republicans could refuse to fund Obama’s military adventure, and even cancel the WH budget.

But the fundamental problem is there is *nothing* that Boehner will do to cross Obama and they both know it.

So Obama has a blank check to do what he wants.

Were Boehner interested in actually upholding the Constitution or even just helping the Republican party he would do the following:

1) State that the President is seeking a Declaration of War and that such a measure must be properly discussed and vetted.

2) Invite the President to address a joint session of Congress to make his case. Give co-equal time to someone to argue the aqgainst. Demand a *specific* set of war aims at part of Obama’s speech. Invite the media to cover it.

3) Schedule the declaration of war to a vote, and if it succeeds budget the war (ideally taking the funds from Obamacare or some such).

4) After scheduling the vote, but before it is taken, note publicly that articles of impeachment will be immediately introduced if the declaration of war fails to pass and Obama engages American military forces in the Syrian Civil War.

18-1 on September 5, 2013 at 12:19 PM

I’m still hoping there is a throw down between Obama and Putin at the G20.

Blake on September 5, 2013 at 12:13 PM

My money is on Putin. I hope he makes Obama cry like a 12 y/o girl.

As to the larger question of Syrian moslems killing Syrian moslems. . . “Allah wills it”. Who are we to get in the way of America’s enemies?

SpiderMike on September 5, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Sorry but that’s the G19 and Obama. Only world leaders get counted.

Happy Nomad on September 5, 2013 at 12:15 PM

If that were the case, it would be G0.

Steve Eggleston on September 5, 2013 at 12:23 PM

I appreciate AP’s weigh in on this, but I disagree. The House shouldn’t abstain from this, because then the obstructionist Republicans meme comes out again. Similarly, I don’t think they should threaten to punish Obama, because the GOP will immediately lose their Democratic allies on this.

The best way to go is to play it straight: take the vote, shoot down the resolution and dare Obama to oppose a bipartisan (as of now 50 House Democrats oppose this thing) vote in Congress. At that point there’s two doors for Obama to take: go with the will of Congress and destroy his own credibility, or attack anyway, against the wishes of Congress, including many in his own party, and a huge majority of the American public.

LukeinNE on September 5, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Let’s make The One, whose fans love to remind you that he’s a con law professor, squirm over why it’s important to have the people’s representatives weigh in here but not so important that their consensus opinion should decide how America acts. And then let’s see if our friends in the media start asking House and Senate Democrats what they think should happen if O ignores a “no” vote in Congress. They’d see that, correctly, as a grave constitutional crisis if a Republican president did it. Time for them to squirm a little too.

Whatever Congress does, Comrade O will do what he thinks is most politically expedient, for himself.

Most likely he would use a No vote to blame the Republicans in Congress for making him back away from his red line threat. And then blame them for whatever bad happens in Syria from that point on.

If he can get a Yes vote he will be free to bomb a few empty shacks in the Syrian desert and claim he accomplished something. He “sent a message”. He will also be free to do whatever he wants after that.

Comrade O is trying to set up a win-win scenario for himself. He wins if Congress says No, because he can back away with honor and blame them. And he wins if Congress gives him a Yes, claiming they agreed that his plan to bomb some empty shacks to “send a message” is the right one.

Defying Congress and bombing in the face of a No vote is probably something he won’t do. The political risks are too great. There is a lot of opposition within his own party.

If Congress gives a Yes he may still hold off on “sending a message”, giving Assad a “last chance”.

What he cannot predict and enter into his “calculus” is what happens after he “sends a message”. So he may still hold off on that even if Congress gives him a Yes. He could try to play “statesman” and say he has heard and carefully considered the arguments of the opposition. And so, even with a Yes vote, in the interest of comity He Has Decided to give Assad one last warning.

Dear Leader is basically a weak weasel, a coward, and a finger pointer. Putin knows it. And all of the bad guys in the world know it. The only people with anything to fear from Comrade O are people he “profiles” as members of al Qaeda, and those around them who are potential collateral damage.

farsighted on September 5, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Uh, aren’t Boehner and Cantor on the O-train?

BKeyser on September 5, 2013 at 12:28 PM

The best way to go is to play it straight: take the vote, shoot down the resolution and dare Obama to oppose a bipartisan (as of now 50 House Democrats oppose this thing) vote in Congress. At that point there’s two doors for Obama to take: go with the will of Congress and destroy his own credibility, or attack anyway, against the wishes of Congress, including many in his own party, and a huge majority of the American public.

LukeinNE on September 5, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Teh SCOAMT will go through door number 2 with exactly the lack of consequences AP laid out (unless, of course, Plugs Biden ends up winning the ongoing Administration war over Syria).

Steve Eggleston on September 5, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Dear Leader is basically a weak weasel, a coward, and a finger pointer.

farsighted on September 5, 2013 at 12:24 PM

One can imagine, if Congress votes no, Obama going up to the podium and blaming Congress for not punishing the use of WMDs. Well, if it was so important to punish Assad, then how come OBAMA didn’t do it a week or two ago when everyone figured he had the authority, to lob his cruise missiles?

He’s dying to blame someone else for failure here.

Paul-Cincy on September 5, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Schadenfreude on September 5, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Andrew Sullivan’s brain has been turned into swiss cheese by AIDS.

slickwillie2001 on September 5, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Uh, aren’t Boehner and Cantor on the O-train?

BKeyser on September 5, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Why yess. Didn’t you notice those two swine carrier cars.

katy the mean old lady on September 5, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Maybe he’ll dehydrate and turn into a pile of dusty sh!t.

katy the mean old lady on September 5, 2013 at 12:19 PM

If that happens he’d probably step in himself.

Flange on September 5, 2013 at 12:34 PM

But I would support the Houses’s abstention, dumping the whole mess back in obama’s lap.

He got himself into this horrible dilemma.

[davidk on September 5, 2013 at 12:04 PM]

It’s appealing, but the problem is we are Obama’s lap in this instance. It would be nice to think that we can divorce ourselves from the self-imposed dilemmas of our President, we can’t.

Just look at the particulars of the subject we are debating. Obama wants the authority to deter and degrade a government and it’s people for, very generally, an act violating established norms and it’s pretty clear the targets will include a substantial portion of people who had no had no responsibility for the act nor did they have any prior knowledge of the the act. Worse, they never had a chance to vote nay on the act or voice their opposition to it and declined to do so.

Yet here we are going about doing a similar thing though we have prior knowledge of the intention to do it, we have a voice in it, and an opportunity to have it voted on. Does declining to vote on it and basically leaving the President to do what he wants because it’s his tub of hot water he’s sitting in, without preventing him from acting unconstitutionally and illegally wrt “international norm” divorce us from all responsibility for his actions?

I don’t think so. We part own his mistakes and we totally own them when we look the other way.

This is the effin’ problem with having a President who has not only has absolutely no regard for the rule of law but doesn’t even give a nod to a ceremonial or cursory following of it.

Dusty on September 5, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Two: If the leadership senses that there’s no majority willing to punish Obama, then the House simply shouldn’t vote.

This is the correct course of action, whether they think there’s a majority willing to punish Obama at all or not.

This vote has been requested from Obama for no other reason than to give him cover – no matter what the vote (yea or nay), no matter what the outcome in Syria (good or bad), the calculation from Obama and the media will be pro-Obama, anti-Republican.

It’s a grand political “heads I win, tails you lose” proposition.

Midas on September 5, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Dear Leader is basically a weak weasel, a coward, and a finger pointer. Putin knows it. And all of the bad guys in the world know it. The only people with anything to fear from Comrade O are people he “profiles” as members of al Qaeda, and those around them who are potential collateral damage.

farsighted on September 5, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Actually, such people are extremely dangerous, maybe more so thanh out and out tyrants. The entire world has much to fear from Obama. I can envision a cascade of events in which Obama’s need to “save face” keeps compounding, and the basic reason and caution of humility has no room to operate. Truly scary.

rrpjr on September 5, 2013 at 12:37 PM

farsighted on September 5, 2013 at 12:24 PM

I left something out.

Comrade O will say he *can* ignore a No vote if he chooses, but it might change his “calculus”.

I doubt Boehner has the guts to refuse to bring a vote to the floor in that light.

In part because Comrade O almost certainly would not ignore a No vote.

And in part because Boehner has stated he supports Comrade O on this. After saying that how can he not put it to a vote?

farsighted on September 5, 2013 at 12:40 PM

I agree with many here saying that barky is just looking for congressional support so that he has someone to blame when, not if, when this whole situation blows up in his face.

Boehner wants to support it so make him bring it up for a floor vote and let the chips fall where they may.

Personally I hope it fails, this isn’t our fight. But if it does get voted down and barky goes ahead anyway, does anyone actually think that Boehner & Co will do anything about it other than bluster for the cameras that is. Yeah, didn’t think so.

D-fusit on September 5, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Vote “Present”. Be spineless like Bozo.

Key West Reader on September 5, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Teh SCOAMT will go through door number 2 with exactly the lack of consequences AP laid out (unless, of course, Plugs Biden ends up winning the ongoing Administration war over Syria).

Steve Eggleston on September 5, 2013 at 12:28 PM

I’ll get on board with consequences for Obama if anyone comes up with consequences that are both feasible and meaningful. Impeachment is not feasible, as AP mentioned and a party line vote to censure the president isn’t meaningful.

I really think the best we can do is get a “no” vote and see if Obama is brazen enough to launch a war over the objections of Congress and the American people just because he has to enforce this red line thing he ad-libbed into existence a year ago.

LukeinNE on September 5, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Congress will do NOTHING to stop Obama. They MIGHT send a ‘strongly worded’ letter to him. They most definitely will NOT pursue impeachment. Look at the threats from the Travon Martin case…just think what will happen if impeachment proceedings are initiated.

Basically, WW III will start because our leaders are too cowardly to do their jobs…they would rather play Internet poker.

xmanvietnam on September 5, 2013 at 1:04 PM

I don’t know how anyone can make a good decision here.

Paul-Cincy on September 5, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Yes. I really don’t know the answer.

Dusty on September 5, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Thanks for your insight.

davidk on September 5, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Like it or not, the Constitution and the Founding Fathers are on the Executive Branch side on this…and its not even close.

http://www.virginia.edu/cnsl/pdf/Turner-War-and-Forgotten-Executive-Power.pdf

There is good reason Reagan didn’t think about going to Congress for Grenada and Lybia.

jp on September 5, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Delusion:

I can’t say that it isn’t something that I didn’t know before, but I certainly do think that it’s a sign of strength… I would say he’s a tough hombre.

http://swampland.time.com/2013/09/05/qa-nancy-pelosi-talks-about-syria-attack-with-time/?iid=sl-main-lead

davidk on September 5, 2013 at 1:12 PM

There is good reason Reagan didn’t think about going to Congress for Grenada and Lybia.

jp on September 5, 2013 at 1:09 PM

He didn’t have to, for either.

In Grenada, the condition was that Americans were in peril on the ground in Grenada.

In Libya, the condition was that Ameicans had been murdered by Libya.

In both cases, the senior members of both parties in Congress, and the senior two members of the House and Senate Committees involved were called in and informed that on this date, at this time, this is going to happen, or, as it worked our, told that as of an hour ago, the United States has deployed assets to take care of the problem…

If the War Powers Act of 1973 is held to be Constitutional…then following the letter and spirit of that Act is likewise Constitutional.

it is only when the clock runs out…90 days, or is it 60? It is only when that clock runs out is there a requirement for the White House to go to The Hill and justify what they are doing and justify the expense.

What Obama is doing…Kabuki…pure N’oh theater…for no other reason than to be able to fix blame after the fact.

He is already doing that for his famously infamous “red line.” Now, saying the “world” drew those red lines, he didn’t.

Obama is seeking political cover for speaking off the cuff, spur of the moment.

Unfortunately, this time, Obama is the one who “acted stupidly” and all the beer summits in the world are not going to get him off the hook…except for members of his own party and that way too large percentage of totally clueless stupid low-information voters who got Obama this gig in the first place.

coldwarrior on September 5, 2013 at 1:21 PM

coldwarrior on September 5, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Read Robert Turner’s paper linked by me above.

Syria, constitutionally, does not require Congress OK. never has since George Washington.

In fact ‘declare war’ came from old International Law tradition of declarations of law and was criminalized by International law after WW1 and WW2 making it an Ananchronism just like “Law of Marquee and Reprisal” was.

The Founders made their views very clear, but have to understand the meaning of the terms in 18th century.

jp on September 5, 2013 at 1:24 PM

I would note that, what I’ve stated and linked above was the hardline Constitutional Conservative position up until apparently this year.

jp on September 5, 2013 at 1:26 PM

[jp on September 5, 2013 at 1:09 PM]

I appreciate the link. I’ll read the thing later. Can you toss up a thumbnail of that 78 page pdf?

Dusty on September 5, 2013 at 1:26 PM

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