Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took the debate over Libya to a new low yesterday. (For full disclosure, I am lead counsel representing members challenging the constitutionality of the Libyan War). Clinton is largely responsible for entering the United States in another undeclared war. She is now dismissing all of the constitutional and fiscal concerns of members and publicly asking members “Whose side are you on?”
It is a case of hoisting the wretch to silence one’s critics.
The not-so-veiled threat is directed to House members who want to cut off funding for the war — who will now be accused of supporting Gaddafi. It is an approach taken by others. In a recent bizarre debate I had with Abraham Sofaer of the ultra-conservative Hoover Institute, Sofaer continued to push aside the constitutional and statutory problems with the war by repeatedly reminding listeners what a bad guy Gaddafi is. Sound familiar? It is precisely what the Bush Administration did in pushing us into the disastrous Iraq War. Clinton was one of those Senators who went along in approving the action (and later insisted that she had been misled). Back then it was Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. The legalities and logic of the war were quickly pushed aside by the power of personality.
She may succeed. Not willing to appear pro-Gaddafi, Senators are moving to give Obama post-hoc authorization. Senators Kerry and McCain are pushing to give Obama the authorization that he never asked for — and is still not asking for. It is a rather pathetic display of the Congress desperately trying to appear relevant — even when a president is saying that it is not.
The technique of guilt by association is a time tested approach. Any high school student will tell you that the only thing as successful of pressuring kids to be “in with the in crowd” is to say that if they are not they are sweet on the ugliest or most unpopular kid in class. Next we will hear the State Department spokesman taunting members of being “up in the tree” with Gaddafi “K-I-S-S-I-N-G.” Either you give us the money for an undeclared war or you are BFF to Gaddafi.
Here is the answer for the Secretary of State — we are on the side of the Constitution. Jamaica.