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President Obama Is Apparently Not Imperial Enough for the GOP

February 24, 2015 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

“Obama’s imperial presidency” has become a favorite rallying cry for the GOP. President Obama is acting “like a king,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) rails: his “aggressive unilateralism” presents “a direct challenge to the constitutional balance of powers.” This president “believes somehow he’s become a monarch or an emperor that can basically ignore the law and do whatever he wants,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) fumed last summer.

Strong rhetoric—but it’s not hard to find evidence to back it up. After all, in March 2011, without so much as a by-your-leave to Congress, President Obama embarked on a seven-month bombing campaign in Libya, all the while insisting that his regime-change operation wasn’t a “war” for constitutional purposes, and didn’t even rise to the level of “hostilities” under the War Powers Resolution. Just last week, some six months and 2,000 airstrikes since he unilaterally launched our latest war in the Middle East, Obama finally got around to sending a draft “Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” up to the Hill. In our constitutional framework, we’re supposed to have the debate before the country goes to war. But since Obama’s draft AUMF came with a cover memo insisting that “existing statutes provide me with the authority I need” to wage war, he’s made it abundantly clear he thinks Congress is superfluous.

President Obama goes around making war without so much as a nod to Congress, and GOP leaders respond by complaining his wars aren’t extensive enough.”

Let’s Allow Endless and Unconditional War

So how have the GOP’s erstwhile opponents of the imperial presidency greeted this latest affront to the separation of powers? By complaining that Obama hasn’t been imperial enough.

Although the Obama AUMF on its face allows the president to expand the war beyond the current theaters of battle in Iraq and Syria, it also contains a three-year time limit and a loosely worded bar to “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” Boehner, Rubio, and many of their co-partisans find those restrictions unendurable. As they see it, any new authorization from Congress should be, like true love, endless and unconditional.

Obama’s draft authorization would “tie his hands even further,” Boehner lamented. The “limitations built into it are really quite unprecedented,” Rubio agonized on the Senate floor Wednesday. “We did some research earlier today,” Rubio continued, and “never before” has Congress authorized military action “with …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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