Time's Up

In case you didn’t notice (and a lot of people haven’t been paying attention), it’s been almost two months since President Obama declared UnWar on Libya. And that means that the War Powers Resolution is about to kick in.

A quick recap: in the wake of Viet Nam, Congress passed a law that limited a president’s ability to start wars. Under the law, the president has to get Congressional approval for any major military actions, or at least notify them within 48 hours after it’s started. From then, he has 60 days to wrap things up or get Congressional approval to continue — otherwise, he has 30 days to knock it off.

President Nixon promptly vetoed the bill, saying it infringed on the president’s Constitutional powers as Commander In Chief.

And Congress just as promptly overrode that veto, making it law.

But it’s never been put to a Constitutional test. Every single president who has run up against it has walked a fine line — they have followed its tenets, but consistently insisted that it was unconstitutional and not binding. It was the legislative version of “I’m doing what you tell me to do, but not because you’re making me, but because I wanna!”

The closest any president came to challenging the law was Bill Clinton, in Kosovo. There he extended the mission after Congress voted funding for it, saying that counted as approval — but the actual wording of the law specifically says “funding don’t count, it has to be explicit approval.” But no one called him on it.

President Obama has already implied his opinion of the War Powers Resolution; it says Congress must be consulted unless it’s a clear and present danger to the US. Obama didn’t bother to consult Congress (or even broach the subject with the American people) ahead of time, but did have time to work closely with our NATO allies and the UN.

Others might comment on where his loyalties lie, when he places getting the approval of other nations before his own Congress or people. I will merely let the matter speak for itself.

But now he’s up against another deadline. And he will have to decide soon if he’s going to abide by the Resolution, openly challenge it, or just ignore it.

Me, I’m of mixed feelings on the matter. I can see arguments on both sides of the Resolution, and think that it’s a Constitutional fight in the brewing. I can also see the appeal of simply leaving the matter unsettled.

But dammit, it’s on the books. It’s the law of the land. It needs to be either followed, challenged, or repealed. It’s an open sore on the Constitution, and we need to settle this matter.

The world is a vastly different — and smaller — place than it was when the Constitution was written. Messages that took weeks to travel now arrive instantaneously. And declarations of war — along with the deliberations that lead up to them — only serve to give the would-be enemy plenty of time to prepare — and, perhaps, attempt a “Pearl Harbor” pre-emptive strike of their own. And the law needs to recognize that and take that into account.

Is the War Powers Resolution a reasonable accomodation between Constitutional principles and modern realities? I dunno. But I think it’s a conversation we need to have — and a matter we need to settle.

The last thing we need is President Obama continuing to blow it off and blunder into a Constitutional crisis. Which is why I pretty much expect him to do just that.

Obama: Drill baby, drill
Obama Rejects Our Reality And Substitutes His Own
  • retired military

    “But dammit, it’s on the books. It’s the law of the land”

    Last time I checked so were the immigration laws.

  • Dammit, rm, do NOT get me started on that one…


  • Jeff Blogworthy

    Pesky laws. For little people. Obama stands above all that. Above the world really. Like God.


  • GarandFan

    Barry prefers to ‘lead from behind’. Gosh! It’s just soooooooo inspiring.

    Still waiting for the large backlash from the “No Blood for Oil” crowd……oh, wait. That’s only for Republicans.

  • glenn

    If there were a Republican in the WH there might be a Constitutional crisis. With a Dem, no chance. The press will ignore the deadline and the Repubs will stifle themselves because while we are doing it very badly thanks to the incompetence of team Obama we are doing the right thing by trying to depose Mo.

  • iwogisdead

    We’ll have to wait to see what gutsy call Valerie Jarrett makes on this one.

  • Rodney Graves

    This is a continuation of a trend on the part of the Democrats with regard to National Security which needs to be recognized and stepped on.

    The Democrats consistently carp, protest, delay, and otherwise resist National Security measures proposed by Republican Administrations which they subsequently embrace, utilize, and expand when they control the White House.


  • Jim Addison

    Obama don’t need no stinking Constitution – he rules by decree, by fiat, even where Democratic Congresses have pointedly not allowed the acts. EPA, DOJ, FCC, and NLRB are just a few of the agencies ignoring the laws and ruling by regulation.

    Schoolchildren being taught songs about Obama’s glory . . . it’s a Maoist’s wet dream.

  • Bruce Henry

    Wow. This is the level of commentary you get from one of your main writers – a bolding of the “rat” part of “democrat.” How very mature. And persuasive.

    And from Mr Gravitas Emeritus Addison, a whine about a meme that was discredited about TWO YEARS AGO. Awesome.

  • iwogisdead

    I see Bruce is still stinging from his Graves’ Law Sanction. C’mon Bruce–take it like a man.

  • Last time I checked, iwog, this wasn’t a Graves thread, but a War Powers Resolution thread. Got anything to say about that?


  • iwogisdead

    Sure, I think Obama will continue with the Libya involvement (hoping for another “bin Laden bounce” when K-Daffy is offed) without following the WPR. The usual suspects will march ahead with their talking points, and nothing will come of it. That’s what I think.

  • Rodney Graves


    Thanks for going there:

    Sure, Democrats Are Hawkish, But Only if They Call the Shots
    May 9, 2011 1:29 P.M.
    By Jim Geraghty

    Ross Douthat and Jeffrey Goldberg are far too kind to today’s Democratic party.

    Douthat: “Imagine, for a moment, that these were George W. Bush’s policies at work. A quest for regime change in Libya, conducted without even a pro forma request for Congressional approval. A campaign of remote-controlled airstrikes, in which collateral damage is inevitable, carried out inside a country where we are not officially at war. A policy of targeted assassination against an American citizen who has been neither charged nor convicted in any U.S. court. Imagine the outrage, the protests, the furious op-eds about right-wing tyranny and neoconservative overreach. Imagine all that, and then look at the reality. For most Democrats, what was considered creeping fascism under Bush is just good old-fashioned common sense when the president has a “D” beside his name.”

    Goldberg: “These last eight days, as well as the last 10 years, suggest to me that there is only one American foreign policy; this default foreign policy is interventionist, moralistic, and militarily robust. Everything else is commentary.”

    A less charitable interpretation is that in a dangerous world, there is a clear set of policies that is required to protect the country, but only one party is honest about it.

    Thus an inconvenient fact, vice a meme, and far from disproved. Those interested should read the whole thing.

    On reflection, referring to the democrats as “Democrats” may be unkind, to rats.

  • retired military

    Obama will say that Congress didnt complain to him about it so therefore he met the requirements of Consulting. Just becuase he consulted doesnt mean he is required to stop.

  • Rodney Graves


    All threads that Bruce Henry graces with his insights are by definition all about Bruce. How could you be so obtuse as to miss that?

  • Rodney, I repeat: Bruce did me a solid on my other thread. He’s mostly been civil with me, and never done anything that’s gotten me even close to wanting to ban him on any of my threads.

    Here, the two of you are trying to turn my discussion of the WPR into a personal pissing match.

    I am NOT entertained by that.

    I think I am more than capable of policing my own threads. If I believe I am in need of assistance, I know who I can ask for help.

    You got problems with him on your articles? Not my concern. On my threads, his participation is welcome until such time as he pisses me off too much. And as I said, he’s done right by me on several occasions. He’s caught me in a couple of stupid mistakes, and been decent about it, and that means a lot to me.


  • iwogisdead

    Not to get in a family squabble or derail a post here, but, in the thread which I referenced, I was having an enjoyable (heated) discussion with Bruce when, for no apparent reason, he said that conservatives are racist and sadistic.

    Maybe that’s how he really feels, or maybe the cat walked across his keyboard–I don’t know. But that sort of comment means a lot to me as well, for whatever that’s worth.

  • Bruce Henry

    My bad, Jay Tea. The twofer of RG and the GravEmerAdd, back-to-freaking-back,was too tempting not to snark on, but I apologize.

    I doubt conservatives will make too much of a stink if the War Powers thingie goes a little long in Libya. They’ve spent too many years pushing the idea of an all-powerful Commander-in-Chief to risk putting the concept in doubt, especially since they believe (mistakenly, I bet) that Obama will be gone after next year and a Republican safely in charge again.

    After Obama’s reelection? Yeah, maybe so.

  • Fine. It ends here. No more personal crap and baggage on this thread.


  • Bruce Henry

    And actually, Iwog, what I meant to say in that thread was that many conservatives DEFENDED a practice that is, as it has been used in the GWOT, both sadistic and racist, at least to my mind.

    Perhaps I could have clarified as the discussion progressed, if my words were intemperate or over-the-top, but I was prevented from continuing.

    But I fear that I’m taking this thread even further off topic. Sorry again.

  • iwogisdead

    Fair enough.

  • Rodney Graves

    R, AR.

  • Minitrue

    “We are just receiving word of a glorious victory in the war against Eastasia! Many tanks and planes have been destroyed, and thousands of enemy soldiers have surrendered! In honor of our victory, the Party has authorized a 2% increase in the monthly chocolate ration!”