Dover Bitch

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More 'micromanaging' rhetoric

After reading the ridiculous comment by Sen. Joe Biden, regarding the "micromanaging" of the war by Congress, DB set out to find other Congress members willing to use that lame excuse to abdicate their Constitutional obligations. At HuffPo, Paul Abrams also points out how bankrupt this idea really is:

In order to explain this nonsense, Biden-Snow abuse the meaning of the word, "micromanage". The President is Commander-in-Chief, so the doctrine goes, and thus anything to do with the war is the President's bailawick, and to enact restrictions would be to micromanage.

Consider another area where the President had broad authority, the conduct of foreign policy. Can Congress not determine how much money will be spent on an embassy in a particular country? Can Congress not determine whether to spend any money at all on an embassy in that country? Can the President just authorize an embassy to be built without getting the money appropriated by Congress?

It's worth noting that the use of the word "micromanaging" in relation to a war is usually directed at the civilian leadership (the President and Secretary of Defense) when critics believe the military leadership is being hindered by interference from Washington. Here we have a case of President Bush replacing his military leaders with generals who will be willing to follow his unpopular decisions... And the only people talking about micromanagement are the representatives asked by the American people to end this madness.

So which senators and representatives, in addition to Biden, are bailing completely on their responsibilities this way?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell used the word three times while talking to Brit Hume on Sunday.

The Boot Full of Hammers representing Texas, Senator John Cornyn, also chimes in: "We can't have 535 members of Congress micromanaging the war."

Lyndsey Graham gets in on the action, too:

"I think it would be a monumental mistake if the Congress of the United States tries to micromanage this war, said Graham. "Any effort by Congress to control troops levels and cut off funding for those in harms way, I think would run again the advice of the new military leadership on the ground.

"One thing I know for sure is that you'll never win any war with 535 commanders in chief, he said.

On the other side of the issue, in the NY Times, Rep. John Murtha doesn't simply reject the idea that a refusal to fund an escalation is micromanaging:
"They will say we're micromanaging the Defense Department. Well they need to be micromanaged, he said. "What we decide is the direction of the country on this war."

In a recent CBS poll, Americans were asked "Who[m] do you trust to do a better job handling the situation in Iraq: Bush or the Democrats in Congress?" The results were a lopsided 56-32 in favor of Congress. CNN just reported that 61 percent of Americans oppose this escalation.

Perhaps these realities aren't enough to convince Biden and Co. to take an active lead in most important issue of the day. But are there really no circumstances in which the co-equal legislative branch of the U.S. government would assert itself to reign in a disastrous policy?

UPDATE Via Glenn Greenwald, DB discovered that a much smarter blogger than I, Marty Lederman, made essentially the same points I made in the post below... and a day earlier:

There is nothing in the Constitution about "micromanagement;" there is no reason in the world why a Democrat in Congress (Biden) should be arguing for Bush's plenary power; there are clearly circumstance when Congress would have no choice but to use its powers to limit the president's reckless actions; the idea that the founders would devise a system of checks and balances, but secretly aspire to create an unstoppable Commander in Chief is really, really stupid.

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