Tuesday, January 09, 2007

"Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

As Creature reported earlier, Senator Ted Kennedy has come out swinging against President Bush and the surge he is expected to announce tomorrow. He has today proposed legislation to stop the escalation of the Iraq War: "The President may deny the plain truth. But the truth speaks loudly and tragically. Congress must no longer follow him deeper into the quagmire in Iraq."

Kennedy later commented on the legislation at The Huffington Post:

Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam, and we cannot allow history to repeat itself any longer. Our troops deserve better. We must act now.

Today, I introduced legislation to reclaim the people's right to a full voice in the president's plan to send more troops to Iraq. My bill will say that no additional troops can be sent and no additional dollars can be spent on such an escalation unless and until Congress approves the president's plan.

Congress must exert its constitutional authority and demand a vote before any escalation in Iraq.

And he's absolutely right. Bush has had enough of a chance. And he has failed -- and failed his country -- miserably. In 2002, Congress voted -- in retrospect, stupidly -- to authorize Bush to use force (in essence, to go to war) against Iraq. It must not make the same mistake now. (See also Kennedy's comments at Daily Kos.)

For more, see CNN and, in the blogosphere, The Carpetbagger Report, The Impolitic, The Mahablog, The Democratic Daily, TPMmuckraker, and DownWithTyranny!.

Republican Senator Gordon Smith thinks Kennedy's legislation is "a good idea".

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But here's the question. Is it constitutional? Big Tent Democrat of TalkLeft says it isn't, but Marty Lederman of Balkinization (via Glenn Greenwald) argues otherwise:

Even if there were a prohibition in the Constitution against so-called congressional "micromanagement" of a war -- and there's not -- this wouldn't be that. There would be no congressional officials here overseeing the President's discretionary responsibilities; no requirement that the President get approval of one or both Houses before taking certain actions. There would, instead, simply be limitations on a war imposed by statutes passed with the President's signature or by supermajorities of both Houses of Congress over the President's veto.

I am not automatically predisposed to object to presidential war powers, but there must be limits to those powers and Lederman's argument seems reasonable to me. It's crazy to think that the president, once authorized to go to war, could do anything with respect to the conduct of that war. At some point, Congress must be permitted to step in. Now is that point.

Enough is enough.

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Here's Kennedy today at the National Press Club:

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