Thursday, June 02, 2011

Substance vs. Grandstanding

The Republican Party (a/k/a "The Grand[standing] Old Party) is taking time out from its game of chicken with the economy to possibly team up with Dennis Kucinich to pass a resolution against the continued military involvement of the U.S. in Libya. Dan Larison writes,
If the Kucinich resolution passed, that would be great news, but I have to wonder if it would change anything in the near term. The administration would have a problem if it just ignored it and flouted it, but it is already ignoring and flouting the law, so why wouldn’t they do the same to the Kucinich resolution? The resolution directs Obama to withdraw U.S. forces from the war within a specified period of time, but the administration clearly pays no heed to deadlines set by Congress.
That's the thing about meaningless gestures - they're meaningless. Congress has the power to set hard deadlines, to cut off funding. Instead, we're talking about a deliberately toothless resolution. Members of Congress can pander to one group or another, or set themselves up for a campaign commercial, while doing nothing. And let's not forget, the reason we're in this situation in the first place is that for decades Congress has been unwilling to fulfill its constitutional role in relation to the declaration of war and has happily delegated that responsibility to the President. Even as the GOP ponders following or imitating Kucinich, look at what John Boehner has to say:
Boehner, though, says Obama is “technically” in compliance with the war powers requirements.
Wow - what a ringing endorsement of Larison's position that the Obama Administration is "flouting the law". Or, for that matter, Glenn Greenwald's.
And note the individuals on whom Obama is now relying to protect him from this bipartisan effort to put an end to his illegal war: "GOP House leaders" -- John Boehner and Eric Cantor, who refused to allow the bill to come up for a vote despite ample support among conservative members of their caucus as well as numerous liberal House members. Can we hear more now about how the two parties are so radically different that bipartisan cooperation is impossible? The Emperor has decreed that we will fight this war, and thus we will -- that seems to be the prevailing mindset.
Let's be honest for a moment - this is not a bipartisan deference to "the Emperor" - it's about "How will this look in a TV commercial (either mine or my opponent's)?" Cantor and Boehner fear commercials about how they "let Gadafi win", or about how "They didn't stand behind the troops," or describing how the President had to "stand up to them" in order to prevail in the toppling of a "terrorist dictator". You want them to vote against the intervention in Libya? Find a way for them to spin the vote against the President in the next election and they'll be all over your bill.

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