A reminder that Obama’s lurch towards monarchy isn’t happening in a vacuum. He has many congressional enablers, especially on war powers, and not all of them Democrats. Skip to 4:10 of the first clip below for an example.
Normally when super-hawks want to grant the president “absolute power” to wage war, they frame it as a matter of constitutional principle. Article II says the commander-in-chief is the head of the military, the commander-in-chief wants to hit ISIS, so that’s that. Congress has no role (pay no attention to that Article I power to declare war behind the curtain) except to decide whether to give the president the money he asks for to fund his new military operations, and of course they’ll always, always agree to do that for fear or being accused of abandoning servicemen in the field if they don’t. Here’s a textbook example from super-hawk Marco Rubio, prostrating himself before Obama on the theory that the threat from ISIS is too imminent now to bother with legislative deliberation:
ISIS is not an “immediate” threat. An immediate threat is when there’s no time for congressional deliberation, e.g., when a hijacked plane is headed for a skyscraper and the president needs to decide whether to shoot it down. Of course he has inherent authority to repel that threat. But the ISIS threat has been building literally for years; even a sleepy, disengaged Congress should have been roused months ago when the group seized Mosul. Why they haven’t been debating an AUMF ever since is beyond me. They could have been proactive but they chose to let Obama take the lead, yet another example of congressional abdication of its duties to the president. I’m not sure what Rubio means either when he says there’s no legal barrier to Obama hitting ISIS. Even the White House thinks that Bush-era AUMFs passed by Congress to target Al Qaeda and unseat Saddam should be repealed for being outdated. If Congress wants to hit ISIS, they can and should pass something new. Go figure that Rubio, an aspiring president, wants lots of presidential authority over the military even if it means diminishing the branch to which Floridians elected him to serve.
But as I say, Rubio’s points are standard super-hawk argumentation. King, however, goes one step further: He’s happy to have Congress vote on authorizing operations against ISIS, he says — as long as we know in advance that Congress will vote yes. If there’s a chance they’ll resist O by opposing operations against ISIS, forget it. In other words, and notwithstanding Congress’s Article I power, this guy is arguing explicitly that a supposedly equal branch of government should either treat his own branch as a rubber stamp or ignore it entirely. Which, actually, is the same attitude Obama’s taken towards Congress on immigration. They can legalize illegals by statute, as Obama wants, or Obama will simply do it this winter himself by executive order. Rubber stamp or nothing. We’ve reached the point as a nation where “checks and balances” now involves members of the legislature demanding that their own branch be sidelined in matters of truly grave national importance.
Two clips for you, one of King and the other (via the Corner) of Obama echoing King’s rubber-stamp approach in saying he might well end up asking Congress for approval even though he doesn’t really have to.
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