Hillary to congressional Libya critics: Whose side are you on?

Not only is that a direct quote, the State Department actually chose it as the video highlight from her presser yesterday in Jamaica.

This is really just the cherry on top of the sundae that is our Libya mission, isn’t it? First, the guy who became famous for opposing “dumb wars” launches a new mission in Libya. Then he fights tooth and nail to avoid getting congressional approval, going so far as to ignore his own lawyers as to whether operations there are legal. Then his own secretary of state — who spent years trying to make amends to the anti-war crowd for voting to invade Iraq — turns around and kinda sorta questions the loyalty of administration critics. What’s next, MoveOn.org running ads needling Boehner for being a hippie?

QUESTION: It’s a good subject for the floor. (Laughter.) We’ve entered a situation in Libya that looks increasingly quagmire-like. And it’s starting to create a political headache for the Administration with Republican leaders arguing that the actions were inappropriate in the sense that they circumvented congressional approval for them. What is the – your vision for the endgame, a medium-term plan for U.S. involvement in Libya? And what do you make of House Speaker Boehner’s remarks?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, I am going to be testifying tomorrow at great length, probably longer than anyone cares to listen about all of these issues – Brad’s question, your question I’m sure will be fodder for the testimony. But I have to take issue with your underlying premise. I think that there is very clear progress being made in the organization and the operational ability of the opposition, the Transitional National Council, the military efforts on the ground. I don’t think there’s any doubt in anyone’s mind that Qadhafi and the people around him have their backs against the wall. The kind of support that we saw forthcoming for the Libyan opposition at the recent Libyan Contact Group meeting in Abu Dhabi was very heartening. Money is flowing, other support is available.

So I know we live in a hyper-information-centric world right now, and March seems like it’s a decade ago, but by my calendar, it’s only months. And in those months, we have seen an international coalition come together unprecedented between not only NATO, but Arab nations, the Arab League, and the United Nations. This is something that I don’t think anyone could have predicted, but it is a very strong signal as to what the world expects to have happen, and I say with all respect that the Congress is certainly free to raise any questions or objections, and I’m sure I will hear that tomorrow when I testify.

But the bottom line is, whose side are you on? Are you on Qadhafi’s side or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been created to support them? For the Obama Administration, the answer to that question is very easy.

At PJM, Bryan Preston recalls the golden days of three years ago when dissent was still patriotic. The fact that she’s willing to stoop to this depth is significant as a measurement of how invested the White House is in Libya at this point, both politically and diplomatically. The House is set to vote on not one but two resolutions tomorrow, one of which would defund the mission. It’ll never pass the Senate so it’s mainly symbolic, but even a symbolic defunding vote would be a major rebuke to Obama for his imperiousness in not seeking congressional authorization sooner. Diplomatically, they’re in even bigger trouble: Italy, which has to live next door to Qaddafi, has suddenly broken with NATO to call for a ceasefire on “humanitarian” grounds. The Arab League has also expressed “misgivings” about civilian casualties and joined the ceasefire call, and Time notices some unrest in French and British diplomatic circles. With every day of stalemate that passes between a tinpot desert dictator and a U.S./UK/France coalition, NATO’s global credibility as a viable military alliance shrinks — which, as Jonah Goldberg notes, ironically makes victory increasingly important. That’s why Hillary’s demagoging this. Somehow, they’ve bungled their way into making an otherwise unimportant mission a very big deal.