Via the invaluable Morgen Richmond, she’s talking here about the president waging war on Iran without Congress’s approval, not signing a nuclear treaty without the Senate’s approval, but that distinction is academic. There’s constitutional support for Congress’s role in both cases, and both cases obviously involve the momentous question of how to neutralize Iran’s nuclear threat. And needless to say, she doesn’t draw her argument narrowly here; she’s in full flower with the checks-and-balances/legislative-oversight rhetoric that used to make Democrats swoon until noon on January 20, 2009.
In confronting enemies and threats, we are fortunate to possess a great many assets, all of which we must wisely deploy, including our military, diplomatic, economic, and cultural assets. Our strongest asset remains the democracy that we are privileged to take part in as members of the Senate and as representatives of our constituents. Our democratic institutions, under our Constitution, balance one another and check against excesses and concentrations of power that help us wrestle with difficult challenges in an open and forthright way. This constitutional framework is not an obstacle to pursuing our national security, but the example that we should project to the world. Our democracy, with its tradition of accountable power and open debate, is America at its best. And that’s what we need, America at our best, as we deliberately and resolutely confront the threat posed by the Iranian regime…
America must proceed deliberately and wisely, and we must proceed as a unified nation. The smartest and strongest policy will be one forged through the institutions of our democracy. That is the genius of our American system and our constitutional duty. We have witnessed these past six years– until the most recent election of a new Congress by the American people– the cost of congressional dereliction of its oversight duty, a vital role entrusted to Congress by our constituents, enshrined in, and even required by our Constitution.
She also condemns the “rush to war” in Iraq, which never bothered her until long after she cast her vote in the Senate authorizing that war in 2002.
I recommend skipping to 13:15 of the clip for the big finish. Congressional “oversight [of the president on Iran] will … lead to a consensus approach,” she says, “that brings together the best judgments and strategies of our nation and will examine the consequences of action, the reality of any perceived or alleged threat, and the consequences of taking action.” I couldn’t agree more. And neither could American voters. Exit question: How’s she going to spin this away going forward? Even if she coughs up some bogus distinction between Congress’s war power and its treaty power, she’ll naturally want the power to wage war unilaterally as president herself. What does she about this clip when that comes up circa 2018?