First, the quote from Democrat/Independent Senator Joe Liberman:
This non-binding measure before us is a first step toward a constitutional crisis that we can and must avoid. Let me explain what I mean by a constitutional crisis. Let us be clear about the likely consequences if we go down this path beyond this non-binding resolution. Congress has been given constitutional responsibilities. But the micro-management of war is not one of them. The appropriation of funds for war is. I appreciate that each of us here has our own ideas about the best way forward in Iraq, I respect those that take a different position than I, and I understand that many feel strongly that the President’s strategy is the wrong one. But the Constitution, which has served us now for more than two great centuries of our history, creates not 535 commanders-in-chief, but one—the President of the United States, who is authorized to lead the day to day conduct of war. Whatever our opinion of this war or its conduct, it is in no one’s interest to stumble into a debilitating confrontation between our two great branches of government over war powers.
My response: Senator Lieberman attempts to sound measured and responsible concerning the anti-surge resolution. He fails to understand some very basic realities concerning Iraq that animate a great deal of the reasoning behind the current efforts at publicly denouncing the surge. Realities like: Congress (yes, still one of those branches) has the exclusive authority to declare war and has never done so regarding Iraq. So yes, these ‘constitutional responsibilites’ have been almost wholly usurped by the President.
Also, the possibility of ‘a debilitating confrontation’ is largely the product of an administration that has not only avoided having productive conversation but has deliberately and consistently lied to, equivocated with and ignored Congress. As much as Lieberman may (rightly) feel abandoned by his party, it is absurd that his rebuke to it would take the form of such nonsense. Nicely scripted, finely prepared nonsense, but still, nonsense. We should expect better from him, even if we no longer can from that other fine branch of government.