Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Difference of Opinion

I realize that by now blatant, shameless hypocrisy from the right should fail to even raise an eyebrow. Still, occasionally one of the usual suspects makes a statement that's so comically indefensible and almost unimaginably audacious -- when compared to what he said, oh say, two weeks ago -- that it's worth highlighting.

Here's Newt Gingrich on March 7th.

And here's Newt Gingrich, or perhaps an alien clone of him, just 16 days later -- this morning.

I swear -- you don't even have to try with these assholes. Although ThinkProgress, which pointed out this minor "discrepancy," notes that actually Gingrich's position is 100% consistent: Obama is wrong.


Anonymous said...

Oh....Totally agree.

Must also point out that the pre & post Iraq invasion rhetoric was right down the same path.

I am only reminded of that because those who wanted Bush impeached are strangely silent while a Democratic President is engaged in the same action.

Anonymous said...

And before you go Goldsmith on me, I thought this was a good response --

Obama Administration Claims that the Libya Intervention is Constitutional Because it is Not a “War”

Ilya Somin • March 23, 2011 12:02 am

Charlie Savage of the New York Times reports that the Obama Administration is arguing that the Constitution does not require congressional authorization for the Libya intervention because it is not a “war,” but merely some smaller scale of military action:

“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,” Mr. Obama told The Boston Globe in December 2007.

The administration’s legal team appears to be distinguishing between a full war and a more limited military operation, on the theory that the Libyan intervention falls short of what would prompt any Congressional authority to control decisions about whether to initiate hostilities.Asked about Mr. Obama’s 2007 statement, Tom Donilon, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, said Monday that the administration “welcomes the support of Congress in whatever form that they want to express that support.” But, Mr. Donilon added, Mr. Obama could authorize the operation on his own.

“This is a limited — in terms of scope, duration and task — operation, which does fall in the president’s authorities,” he said.

As I have pointed out here and here, this may be a reasonable argument if the Libya operation remains short and very limited in scale. But if it drags on or the fighting escalates, the administration’s legal position will become increasingly tenuous. Moreover, as Jack Goldsmith points out, the administration may be relying on Clinton-era arguments justifying the 1994 Haiti and 1995 Bosnia interventions. But those arguments relied heavily on the notion that the interventions in question were “consensual” (US forces had been invited by the governments of those countries). By contrast, the Libyan government certainly hasn’t invited us to bomb its forces, and the administration has not recognized the rebels as as the “true” government in Gaddafi’s place.

Some might say that none of this really matters. After all, no court is likely to enjoin military operations against Libya, even if a lawsuit were filed. But the president and Congress have an independent duty to uphold the Constitution even if courts cannot or will not force them to do so. We should strive to establish a political culture where all three branches of government take their constitutional obligations seriously. I am not naive enough to believe that politicians will ever do so fully. But we can certainly do better than the present situation where most of our elected leaders give the Constitution no more than lip service unless forced to do by defeat in Court.

Constitutional considerations also matter in so far as they might sway public opinion. While people who strongly support or strongly oppose the Libya intervention are unlikely to change their minds on the basis of constitutional concerns alone, many observers are on the fence. I am one such fence-sitter myself, since I see some strong arguments on both sides of the policy issue. The Libya action has split both the right and the left in interesting ways. In such a fluid situation, constitutional arguments might have a greater impact than in a case where partisan divisions are tightly drawn and most people have strong commitments to one side or the other.

Chez said...

Look, I get that we're suddenly engaged in yet another conflict in yet another Arabic country (and yes, despite my earlier proclamation that a no-fly zone wasn't the worst idea in the world it does actually kind of piss me off) but don't ever fool yourself into thinking that what's happening right now is equivalent to what happened in Iraq. We were 100% lied to, willfully and systematically, to push us into a war that the Bush administration wanted. That's not what's going on here. In other words, while I still think that what Bush pulled absolutely should have been an impetus for his impeachment, what Obama's administration has done in Libya doesn't even come close to meeting that kind of standard. I tend to defend Obama, it's true, despite really disliking some of the things he's done and hasn't done, and I think that given the economic situation we're in at the moment engaging in any kind of military action should've been almost out of the question, but the guy didn't do anything that he deserves to be run out of office for. Regardless of what those assholes on the right will continue to say.

Anonymous said...

I, in now way mean this as an insult, but I am saddened at the naviety.

You and most of your readers /posters are such intelligent people, but your views blind you to the truth that both sides are bullshitting you so they can serve themselves. It my just be a lifetime of pessimism, but I truly feel that way.

Sure, there are passionate, honest and straightforward people on both sides; but those people scare the real politicians. That passion is dangerous and can turn on them in a heartbeat.

The drumbeat to oust Hussein was going on long before Bush got there, often by the same people who then pointed the finger at him later.

Obama was basically browbeaten into Libya by Hillary and others. But in the end, it was his decision.

Anonymous said...

If, in a year, we can still point to a substantial US military presence in Libya, then a parallel to Iraq is legitimate. Until then, this is so far out of Iraq's league as to be a completely different sport.

There are plenty of issues for which you can hold up a mirror to Obama and see Bush, but this isn't one of them... yet. It may never be.

Anonymous said...

The choice anyone with a brain has been served is either defend the man with some caveats or embrace utter adolescent nihilism. Even with his many flaws (though not as many as Firedogs and Fox would have you believe), I still believe Obama is clearly a better president than the choice the Republicans served up. I sympathize with those who chose the hopeless path, because it sure does seem like the fix is in, but I still hold out hope that the cold Professor is more focused and serious and knows what he's doing better than anyone in the clown show of the modern Republican establishment. Newt's absurdities are exhibit A.

Part of the problem is for all their complaining about Fox, liberals actually bought into the far right fantasy of Obama as uber-liberal, rather than the wonky reality that he's a pretty boring centrist.

kanye said...

It's not possible to draw any equivalence between Libya and Iraq. That would suggest that the two are wholly seperate events. They're not.

Libya is an extension of Iraq; the most recent action made politically tenable by the previous.

Another tooth engaged in the rightward ratcheting of this country.

e said...

I watched the Obama speech announcing the plan for Libya that interrupted basketball while at work. And in almost no way can you compare that to Bush setting up Iraq/Afghanistan.

There is certainly room to discuss whether it was right, whether it will be useful. But that course of action, where our president discussed with the United Nations fellow countries, got agreements, avoiding a unilateral invasion of a country, is exactly what the majority of people had wished for Iraq (albeit most of us after the fact.) I just get tired of hearing what feels like damned if you do, damned if you don't from fellow "liberals."

I also am glad someone said "embrace utter adolescent nihilism", if you've ever used the phrase sheeple in a serious manner, then it feels like you can only see the world in black and white.