These days, there are a lot of shoes on other feet. Goodness, but the hypocrisy never ends. In early 2020, you have Democrats impeaching a president, even though they are guaranteed that he won't be removed from office--and the comments used back in 1998 are used again today. Except the partisans have changed sides at the table.
Democrats in the Senate want their Republican colleagues to act as impartial jurors in the coming impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Sen. Chuck Schumer is up in arms about certain senators who say they won't be. During the impeachment of Bill Clinton, however, the same Chuck Schumer said the Senate wasn't anything like a jury and was "susceptible to the whims of politics." And don't get us started on the Republicans, who spent the 1990s saying Character Matters.
But hypocrisy is nothing new in politics.
We were reminded of that this week when the War Powers Resolution came back up in the ongoing American debate. And what a debate this country remains.
The leadership among the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives wants the current president of the United States and commander-in-chief of its armed forces to get its permission before taking the nation to war, and Nancy Pelosi vowed to vote on this matter soon enough.
But presidents of both parties have ignored the War Powers Resolution for decades, instead taking the thing as a War Powers suggestion, or advice, or recommendation, or maybe insinuation. Some resolution that is. It's anything but resolute.
The War Powers Resolution was implemented after the Vietnam War fiasco over the objections and veto of the president in 1973. On this, Richard Nixon was right.
But his veto was overturned. And presidents since then have all but ignored the legislation, including Barack Obama during the skirmishes with Libya in 2011.
President Obama even used this argument, with the help of his friends in Congress: Shooting at the Libyans and chasing Colonel Gadhafi around the desert didn't amount to "hostilities." (Really, that was the argument.) Now some of those same people are hopping mad about the current president's sending an Iranian terrorist to his reward without a proper memo from Congress.
It's not noised about, but politicians on both sides of the aisle don't want to take this matter to the third co-equal branch of government for a final say. A United States Supreme Court decision might end debate on the matter, and some things are better left vague. Like some things in the Constitution itself. It's necessary and proper that way.
Speaking of the Constitution, it does indeed say that Congress shall declare war. But as has been noted before, nobody declares war anymore. Certainly not the enemies of the United States, who these days like to hide among civilians before exploding devices where they do the most damage.
But not even this country, in a post-1973 world, officially declares war. The last time this country declared war, Pearl Harbor was still smoldering.
In more recent times, presidents have asked for "authorization" by Congress when confronted with war in every way except officially. Presidents Bush I & II did so during the run-up to the First Gulf War and the War on Terror.
As scholar and thinker Dr. Charles Krauthammer once said, "No president should accept--and no president from Nixon on has accepted--the constitutionality of the WPR, passed unilaterally by Congress over a presidential veto. On the other hand, every president should have the constitutional decency to get some congressional approval when he takes the country to war."
But what about when a terrorist pops up for a few minutes at the Baghdad airport and might be gone in an hour? What about when an enemy general, who's been on the battlefield for years, who's responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, and thousands of others, who's in-country in Iraq for what can only be operations briefings? Can a drone send him down the hatch with presidential approval? Even the War Powers Resolution/hint/suggestion/recommendation says yes, if the president gives Congress a heads-up retroactively.
The American people have been debating this Constitution since before there was one. And the debate will continue in this never-ending push-and-pull between the three co-equal branches of government as long as We the People care enough to debate it. Such a fierce debate and wrasslin' match makes for a healthy democracy. But the federalists among us will continue pushing for a strong executive, no matter the party in charge at the transient and fleeting time. And we'll continue pushing for a commander-in-chief of the armed forces who can act like one when it comes to protecting the American people and our allies.
We get the idea that congressional Democrats will come on board one day. Just as soon as there's a member of their party in the White House again.
Editorial on 01/09/2020
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