After two years of being called a tyrant and a dictator, President Obama returns to Washington from a five-day overseas trip to find that he has become a weakling.
Would-be opponents such as Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Sarah Palin had been trying out this somewhat contradictory line of attack for more than a month, as Obama gave mixed signals about events in Egypt and Libya. But the “weak leader” charge gained traction over the weekend, as Obama chose to launch the attack on Gaddafi’s forces while on an excellent adventure in South America with his family.
At about the moment the Tomahawk missiles began to rain down on Libya, Obama was joking with Brazilians about Carnival, the World Cup and the Olympics. Rather than hearing an Oval Office address announcing the new war, Americans got word from the president in a scratchy audio recording. As thousand-pound warheads pounded Libyan forces, Obama was kicking a soccer ball, seeing the sights and watching cowboys in sequins.
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The wording is striking because it recalls the “Authorization of the Use of Force,” in Iraq — an authorization that Congress provided. It was not a unilateral action by the President, like today’s “authorization” was.
It seems pretty clear to me that the Constitution does not give the President the authority to start an offensive war with no Congressional approval.Candidate Obama agreed with me. Here he is in 2007: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
Another striking detail: CNN reports that this announcement came “in an audio message from Brazil.”
Add in the complete lack of debate, and Obama’s silence on the matter before voting at the UN to approve an attack on Libya.
This seems a pretty flippant way to begin a war.
But maybe Obama doesn’t think 112 Tomahawk Missiles and a pledge to shoot down Libyan aircraft flying in their own airspace counts as “war” — in which case we have to wonder if we can ever know what he means by any word.