If I were a member of Congress I happily would vote down Obama’s war resolution for all of these reasons. There is no cause to assent to the president’s demand for a war authority he does not want, does not need, and probably will not use. I also cannot help thinking that the presidential request is little more than a trap, a bone thrown in the direction of the cloakroom to distract from the collapse of America’s position in the Middle East and the approaching deadline for nuclear talks with Iran. How better to provoke infighting among both Republicans and Democrats, to switch the debate from sanctions against Iran to “Rand Paul versus Marco Rubio for the soul of the GOP,” than to start a debate over presidential war powers as the war is going on.
Indeed, a congressional rebuke of Obama on the grounds that his proposal does not go far enough is more likely to make him rethink his approach than bipartisan passage or an extended period of debate and modification and attempts to “improve” his language. And even if such a rethinking does not occur, if Obama goes ahead with his strategy based on his current authorities, the Republicans would pay no price. Say that Obama is not looking to distract the Congress with his war authorization but to win congressional buy-in for his policy through the end of his presidency. How is the country made more secure, how is the American interest furthered, by Republican authorization of a flawed strategy? Would the Democrats have gone along with Bush or participated in earnest and collegial discussions with his administration if he had asked Congress to authorize his surge of troops to Iraq in 2007? You can stop laughing.