On March 19th, 2011 President Barack Obama, a Democrat, completed the derogation of the constitutional war power of the Congress begun by Harry Truman, a Democrat and extended by Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat. The Constitution (Art. I, Sec. 8) authorizes the Congress to declare war. Presidents Truman and Johnson, to varying degrees and in various guises, emasculated that very specific Article in Korea and Viet Nam; President Obama has ignored it entirely in his unilateral, widespread military attack on Libya, choosing instead to obtain an equivocal blessing from the United Nations.
The President has publicly stated that he knows that Congress, not the President, is the seat of the constitutional war power. His public replacement of the Congress with the U.N. as authority for his presidential actions is a public statement that he has replaced the U.S. Constitution with the U.N. as the source of U.S. presidential authority; there is no other possible interpretation. Our President has here publicly yielded American sovereignty to the international body.
Some quibble that the President already has the power he is exercising in Libya as Commander in Chief. That responsibility provides him the power to defend the country when attacks precede the ability of Congress to act; it is defensive only. Libya neither threatened nor attacked the U.S. No honest argument can support any other conclusion from these facts.
Attacking Libya in defense of its anti-government grievants-become-rebels may stand as a good thing to do; it may not. That isn’t an issue in this discussion; the issue is rather: Where is the constitutional authority to make the decision? The Constitution leaves no doubt.
The President having in fact extended his constitutional middle finger toward the Congress, that Congress now has the duty to act in defense of said Constitution; defending the Constitution is a commitment sworn by every Congressman taking office, a specific requirement of Article 6 of said Constitution. In other words, if Congress lets the President flout the Constitution (which he too has sworn to defend) then the Congresspeople are also guilty of violating it.
At this moment, while there are both Democrats and Republicans in Congress who sound very aware of and concerned by these facts, there is no perceptible intention on the part of the Congress to notice the President’s lawlessness so at the moment, the Congress appears equally lawless with the President. And notably, our very professional news folk haven’t seemed to noticed.
But while it may be technically illegal, it’s in a good cause so that makes it all right, doesn’t it? Lots of people argue that the ends justify the means…until the different ends of another day offend them. Nazi anti-Semitism left many Roman Catholics quiet until Nazi anti-Catholicism became fully manifest.
The clear and present danger today is the same one that led Dr. Franklin to add: If you can keep it when he answered Mrs. Powell’s question about the new constitutional republic in 1787. You either have a constitution and its protections or you lack the protections; you cannot turn a constitutional faucet on and off at will. And once constitutional protection is turned off, the restrictions removed, always and everywhere, inevitably foment the endless accretion of power by the government. And this government has already told a Federal court that it has the authority to kill without review, anyone it considers a threat.
Hey, that’s okay; Obama is taking care of us, right? More power to him! Half the country may believe that; another half is unconvinced or disagrees. Providing Obama more power to coerce so many isn’t really likely to provide the common good, is it? And how about those who succeed Obama; what guarantees either their goodwill wielding increasingly dictatorial powers or whom they may favor? Or for that matter, whom may Obama himself favor in the future? After all, he ran against Bushes’ Guantanamo and Iraq and has now provided Guantanamo and Libya himself.
Another lightly considered aspect of Libya is its sheer financial recklessness; the Obama deficits already shadow anything in U.S. history. There is no funding for war in Libya; like the war power, only Congress and in this case the House alone, can constitutionally authorize spending. Here is another place the President is unauthorized and so far, the Congress and the media are silent. The taxpayers are silent too; they may not be when time to pay falls on them and on their children.
So history was made and a new road chosen on March 19, 2011 by a U.S. President’s direct, public assumption of a primary power reserved to the Congress by the Constitution. It was furthered by that Congress’ tacit acceptance, enabled by the silence of the media. Democrats have done it; Republicans are complicit; they have sent the Constitution to a museum. On this road, its’ relic will become a document of convenience to government rather than a bulwark of protection to people. As the lawyers like to say, the bell has rung. Will anyone now unring it?
Categories: World Events