|When Congress Capitulates|
Time For Our Reps To Get Involved
(cartoon from www.takeoverworld.info)
I suppose there's plenty of merit to the complaints about how this undermines the Presidency and might even be an act of "treason." Far-fetched as that may seem, there could well be some legal and Constitutional basis for the charge. From my perspective, though, all political calculation aside, I think it's a test of Constitutional wills that's long overdue. As a Marine who spent 13 months in the belly of that beast that we can fairly call "Lyndon Johnson's war," aka Vietnam, I remember well how Congress kowtowed to LBJ after the trumped up "Gulf of Tonkin" incident, the now widely discredited "phantom" attack on American warships in 1964 that was the catalyst for a resolution that gave LBJ a free hand in conducting the war--virtually a blank check that ended with so many tragic consequences and ruinous fiscal results. The U.S. Naval Institute in a paper published in 2008 concluded that "high government officials distorted facts and deceived the American public about events that led to full U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War."
Decades later, a similarly cowed Congress in 2002 gave President George Bush the green flag to go ahead with with the Iraq War by empowering him to do so with the Iraq War Resolution of 2002. Congressional Dems were so bamboozled by Bush's efforts to pursue the war that they didn't even know what they were voting for--at least that's how Dem presidential contender Hillary Clinton put it when describing her vote, which she thought, according to her, was a "vote to put inspectors back in." That is utterly laughable, of course, but it does show how congressional types have ceded powers to Presidents without doing much in the way of due diligence.
Now we're trying to hammer out some kind of arrangement that will either stop or at least forestall Iran's nuclear ambitions even as President Obama is imperiously keeping a lid on what the United States' side of the bargain is. That really isn't right because Americans have in the past been led along "trust me" paths by secret deals and acquiescent Congresses. Why Obama won't let our elected representatives in on the deal he's he's trying to cut is just the kind of cavalier executive behavior that has gotten us into plenty of jams in the past. Just a week ago Obama and his supporters were angry and aghast when Congress welcomed a huge stakeholder in this deal, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak directly to them and the American people about Israel's view on the subject. I welcomed the speech. What gives with President Obama's reluctance to have him address our elected reps in Congress just because it breaks with tradition? We have a long history of great financial and diplomatic relations with Israel, and just because Obama refuses to hear what Netenyahu has to say, the rest of us might, and many of us do want to know his point of view. I'm no fan of "process" and "tradition" elbowing out "substance."
|Politifact Calls The GOP Assertions "Mostly True"|
I'm Cheering On The GOP With This One
(photo from politifact.com)
Constitutional scholars will have plenty to slice and dice as they analyze this episode, but I'm okay with it functioning as a turning point in America's approach to foreign relations. The process of power politics may be tainting this historical stand-off, but it could prove the catalyst for a future when Americans get to know and make their own judgements about what's going on in the world.