Dover Bitch

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Biden, take away Bush's credit cards

Over at TPM, Josh Marshall ends an excellent post with the following:

And yet, with all this, the president has ignored the Congress, not consulted the 110th Congress in any real way, has ignored the now longstanding views of the majority of the country's citizens and wants to plow ahead with an expansion of his own failed and overwhelmingly repudiated policy. The need for Congress to assert itself in such a case transcends the particulars of Iraq policy. It's important to confirm the democratic character of the state itself. The president is not a king. He is not a Stuart. And one more Hail Mary pass for George W. Bush's legacy just isn't a good enough reason for losing more American lives, treasure and prestige.


You'd think that much would be clear to somebody who's spent a lifetime in the Senate, but Joe Biden, regrettably, doesn't seem to understand his role (the one he has, not the one he wants).

MR. RUSSERT: You said the other day that this is President Bush's war, and there's...

SEN. BIDEN: It is.

MR. RUSSERT: ...there's really little Democrats can do. Why not cut off funding for the war?

SEN. BIDEN: I've been there, Tim. You can't do it.


SEN. BIDEN: You can't do it. It's -- what -— because it made sense in the Constitution when you said you could cut off funding when you had no standing army. We have a standing army with a budget of hundreds of billions of dollars. You can't go in and, like a tinker toy, and play around and say, "You can't spend the money on this piece and this piece and" —- he —- able -— he'll be able to keep those troops there forever constitutionally if he wants to.

MR. RUSSERT: Why not have legislation then that would cap the number of troops in Iraq?

SEN. BIDEN: Because it's very difficult to -— it's constitutionally questionable whether or not you can do that. I think it is unconstitutional to say, "We're going to tell you you can go, but we're going to micromanage the war." When we wrote the Constitution, the intention was to give the commander in chief the authority how to use the forces, when you authorize them, to be able to use the forces. And so, look, what we have to be doing here is the president -— the only way this is going to change, Tim, and I've been saying —- I'm a broken record on this —- is when a majority of Lindsey's colleagues, Republicans, say to the president, "Mr. President, enough. We are not going to support you any more," that's when the president will begin to change his policy. That's when we begin to listen to bipartisan groups. That's when we bebin —- begin to listen to the majority of the expert opinion in this country.

What is he talking about? He's been there? When we wrote the Constitution?

First of all, when the Constitution was written, there was no billion dollar political machine called the Republican Party, upon which was bestowed the only authority to influence the diminutive mind of the president. Utah isn't even on board with Bush in Iraq anymore. But even after getting their political asses handed to them in the midterms, the GOP still has the power as far as Biden is concerned.

Why would the Constitution give Congress the power to authorize military action, but not to revoke that authorization? That's just stupid. Really, it's just stupid. Especially when you consider the fact that this particular president has used that authorization to justify violating whatever laws he's discovered to have circumvented.

Oh yeah, and Biden's in charge of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which witnessed this exchange in 2005 (when he was Ranking Minority Member, a position he's still incorrectly listed as holding):

SEN. CHAFEE: So would you agree that if anything were to occur on Syrian or Iranian soil, you would have to return to Congress to get that authorization?

SEC. RICE: Senator, I don't want to try and circumscribe presidential war powers. And I think you'll understand fully that the president retains those powers in the war on terrorism and in the war on Iraq. ...

SEN. CHAFEE: So that's a no.

SEC. RICE: Senator, I am not going to be in the position of circumscribing the president's powers.

Of course, no matter how crazy George Bush is and how far he sinks America's future in the sand, it's Congress, not the president, who should have its powers "circumscribed" by the Constitution. At least that's how Biden sees it. Is there any other way to interpret his comments?

But the real mindnumber is his absurd "micromanaging" excuse. Biden tells Russert "You can't go in and, like a tinker toy, and play around and say, 'You can't spend the money on this piece and this piece...'" but isn't that, to a certain degree, exactly what Congress is supposed to do?

And that's not even what anybody is really suggesting. Saying "no funding for additional troops" is the most macro you can possibly get. Zooming out any further is no managing whatsoever. Zero. If Biden thinks that is micromanaging, what exactly does he think Congressional oversight is supposed to be? [UPDATE: It is this.]

Simply saying (as most Americans would) "no funding for additional troops" is all anybody really expects at this point. That's not micromanaging, it's democracy in action. And it's the right thing to do.

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