*Besides Louis Farrakhan, President Barack Obama has also got certain members of Congress all bent out of shape over his decision to take military action against Moammar Kadafi.
Politico is reporting that the criticism is from all directions: from moderates, like Sens. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.); from those on the far left and right, like Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Ron Paul (R-Texas), who believe the president acted outside the Constitution; and from the establishment on both sides, including House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut and Republican Rep. Candice Miller of Michigan, a self-described “hawk.”
What it adds up to is this: The president, already taking heat for a perceived lack of engagement on pressing domestic matters, will arrive home from South America needing to justify to Congress and the public his decision to use force in Libya without seeking approval.
It remains to be seen whether Congress has reached a tipping point in its cession of war-making power to the executive branch, but it’s clear that U.S. intervention in Libya has hit a nerve with a war weary legislative branch.
“What is the vital U.S. national interest? … How much does he think it will cost us? What is the scope of the mission? How do you define success?” Miller said, ticking off a list of unanswered questions. “The president should come home, call us into session … and explain what he’s doing.”
Webb, a Marine and former Navy secretary, warned Monday on MSNBC that Congress has “been sort of on autopilot for almost 10 years now, in terms of presidential authority, in conducting these types of military operations absent the meaningful participation of the Congress.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) tweeted Sunday that the president is treating Congress as a “potted plant.”
Kucinich, whose words still hold sway among some on the left, raised the question of why it’s not called an impeachable offense.
“We’re neutered as a Congress. It’s like we don’t exist,” said Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), a longtime member of the Armed Services Committee who turned against the Iraq War. “I wish the president had not gone into Libya without first coming to Congress. We have for too long, as a Congress, been too passive when it comes to sending our young men and women to war.”
Some Republicans are considering bringing a vote on Libya to the House floor, though it’s not clear exactly what they would vote on.
“This is not a partisan issue with me; I have serious concerns about how prior Republican presidents have used or potentially misused that authority, and I think this should trigger a debate within Congress and [among] the American people about proper interpretation and application of [the] Constitution. I’m surprised more conservatives aren’t speaking out about this issue,” freshman Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) told POLITICO. “American lives were not at risk in Libya at the time, and Libya was not a material threat to the United States or its territory, and it’s difficult.”