Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Emporer Wears Stylish Clothes amd Uses A Blackberry but . . . .

I'm going to begin a post by agreeing with Pat Buchanan.  Actually, I'm going to agree only with the title of his book A Republic Not An Empire.  I haven't read it, so I won't say anything about the substance.  If Buchanan is contending that the United States does not have a king and its officials should not act as if they're emperors, I agree.  Unfortunately, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are acting as if they lead an empire instead of a republic.

Talking Points Memo (TPM) breaks the story  here.  Glenn Greenwald gives his take here. Andrew Sullivan adds his voice here.  The story is Hillary Clinton's assertion that the Obama administration is not committed to follow the provisions of The War Powers Act. According to TPM
"They are not committed to following the important part of the War Powers Act," he told TPM in a phone interview. "She said they are certainly willing to send reports [to us] and if they issue a press release, they'll send that to us too."

The White House would forge ahead with military action in Libya even if Congress passed a resolution constraining the mission, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a classified briefing to House members Wednesday afternoon.  [emphasis mine]
Let's place the blame where it belongs:  Obama, the Congress, and us.

Andrew Sullivan makes the point that Obama is at fault better than I can here.  Greenwald's analysis is tremendous as well. 

Matt Yglesias points out out congressional failures,
Members of congress will complain about this, but they won’t really do anything about it, nor will next year’s defense appropriation bill (or the one after that or the one after that or …) contain any effort to constrain presidential warmaking power. That’s because members of congress want to be kept in the dark, they want to be able to complain if things go poorly without taking ownership of the situation. And I think in adopting that attitude, members of congress demonstrate a rare bit of good sense. The level of uncertainty surrounding these activities is huge. There are unbounded downside risks all over the place. But instead of knowledge of those facts leading to greater hesitation about the profligate use of force, it just leads to a congressional flight from responsibility.  [emphasis mine]
The blame for us citizens can be summed up by Shakespeare who in Julius Ceaser has Cassius tell Brutus "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings."  More recently and locally, a rather honest admission at South Dakota War College illustrates how many people behaved during the Bush years and how many responded to Obama's escalation in Afghanistan.

Daniel Larison at The American Conservative sums up the situation quite well.

Do we actually value self-government, the rule of law, separation of powers, checks and balances, and constitutional republicanism, or are we content to let all of those things be trashed on the whim of a relative handful of people for the sake of ideology and good intentions? Do we believe that the President must act within the law, or do we believe he is above it? Will we resist “angelic Caesarism” (as Rieff put it) or fall in line like the passive subjects the administration expects us to be?

The United States is in danger of permantly ceding too much power to the President.  In fact, recent Presidents may have accomplished a peaceful usurpion of congressional power already.  If that's the case we will indeed be waging perpetual war for perpetual peace.  Once that irony is accepted, Orwell's Ministry of Truth will not be far behind.

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