It’s heartwarming to see conservatives’ new-found concern for constitutional war powers. Liberals have been complaining about executive usurpation of war powers since at least the 1960s. Conservatives usually just tell us to shut up.
Republicans, and some Democrats, in Congress are complaining the Obama Administration is in violation of the current War Powers Resolution. The White House says it isn’t. The New York Times (begrudgingly) is siding with John Boehner while the Wall Street Journal is siding with the President. I suppose editorial writers, unlike congresspersons, feel a need to be consistent with whatever stance they took during previous military actions.
The fact is, for lo these many years the War Powers Resolution has never been followed to the letter, and Congress only complains about it when is politically advantageous for members to do so. So while I agree with the Republicans in principle, I object to what I see as ex post facto interpretation of the law on their part.
I appreciate that the White House fears the current Congress would order U.S. military aid to the NATO action in Libya be withdrawn. As the New York Times says, if this happened “The cost to relations with Europe and the unity of the military alliance would be enormous — likely felt all the way to Afghanistan.” And the current House will vote to obstruct whatever President Obama wants to do just because it’s him doing it, and the hell with the cost. But I don’t think the President has a choice.