The 2001 and 2002 authorizations have served their purposes. They are open-ended enabling acts, and they should be repealed and replaced — if they must be replaced — with an instrument that is much more narrowly tailored and takes into account the current political and security realities, which are not what they were nearly 20 years ago. If the Democrats really believe that Donald Trump is a uniquely dangerous threat in the White House — morally unmoored and psychologically unstable, as many of them charge — then they should act on that belief and begin the process of tying his hands.
Yes, that would mean a fight with Senate Republicans. But Pelosi is ready to have a fight with Senate Republicans over impeachment, and launching a war on Iran surely is a much more serious matter than Donald Trump’s telephone call with the Ukrainians and his assorted acts of petty, apple-stealing corruption. If Pelosi is not willing to have a political fight when it really matters, then of what use is she?
Congress and Congress alone has the power to declare war. The plain language of the Constitution is clear about that. If Nancy Pelosi wants to rein in the Trump administration — and leave a lasting legislative legacy that is worth a damn — she should reclaim that power for the legislature and guard it jealously.