Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Baird issues a caution about Bush's plan

There's a fairly important caution near the end of Brian Baird's statement regarding George W. Bush's speech about Iraq last night. From the text of Baird's statement via The Columbian:
"The founders of this nation intentionally and quite clearly gave the Congress the power to check an overzealous or irresponsible executive and Congress needs to exercise that power. We need to insist on answers to these core questions, and if those answers are not forthcoming or compelling, we need to demand a change in strategy and set clear limits on what will or will not be allowed to go forward.

"Those, in the administration or within the Congress itself, who suggest that Congress should not or cannot exercise this authority have a different, and I believe dangerous, understanding of the foundation of our Constitutional Democratic Republic. If the President, the Congress, or the people themselves believe that Congress, as the directly elected representatives of the American people, have no voice in whether or not our country begins or remains at war, and whether or not our sons and daughters will be sent to die, then none of us, not the President or the Congress, has any business trying to bring a democracy to other nations because we have lost sight of how our own republic is supposed to function. That, in the long run, may be a much greater concern and threat than what happens in Iraq."
Baird voted against the authorizing legislation that allowed the initial invasion of Iraq. He's been consistent and steadfast since the beginning, but still wisely and compassionately supportive of the needs of our military personnel.

It would be premature at this point to speculate what will happen. The administration and its broad array of conservative stink tanks contend that the 1973 War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional. Among other things the act requires "consultation" with Congress during on-going hostilities.

Conservatives have, in the past, argued essentially that the War Powers Resolution would hamper a Commander-in-Chief from acting swiftly, among other things. But that's not the issue now. This thing is going on four years old already.

It's clear that the Constitution gives the power to declare and fund wars to Congress. In the 20th Century, notably during the Vietnam War, this proved ineffective, leading to the War Powers Resolution. Best I understand it's never been truly tested. (The Congressional Research Service 30-year report I linked to above is rather lengthy, but worthy of further reading.)

Will we have a Constitutional tussle? Frankly, we don't know yet. But this administration has shown no signs of acknowledging anything other than its own power. We're confident Baird and the rest of the Democrats in our delegation will continue to be strong defenders of the Constitution.

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