I wholeheartedly agree:
On the surface, it was a truly bipartisan defeat of Trump. A full 22 of those 68 yeas were Democrats.
But every Senate Democrat who’s even rumored to be running for president voted nay. The list included Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar and Jeff Merkley. Sherrod Brown did not vote.
The “stinging rebuke” in the Senate that has Washington buzzing was a graphic example of how out of touch the capital is with the rest of the country, which would like more of a say in when, where and why we go to war.
Having been told off by the Trump team, the Senate meekly got together to craft a new AUMF. The proposal among other things would trigger a 60-day review period by lawmakers, in the highly probable event a president decided to make war against a new country.
But nobody on the Senate Foreign Relations committee believed they could get the measure passed. “I think it’s going to be very difficult to get to the finish line on this,” predicted Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). So even that pathetic ask for a fig leaf of congressional authority for future wars went nowhere.
Yet when Trump decided he was going to withdraw forces from Syria and Afghanistan, suddenly it was We Are The World time on the Hill. Republicans and the non-presidential candidates on the Democrat side joined hands to renounce the executive branch for daring to withdraw troops from somewhere without permission.
The constitutional idea that Congress does the declaring of wars, while presidents only command them, is designed to give voters extra input on this most crucial of decisions, i.e. when we’re going to risk American lives (to say nothing of foreign ones).
But Congress has been abdicating that responsibility for a while now. Two successive presidents made a joke of it, expanding limited authorization to go after 9/11 terrorists into nearly two decades of open-ended Middle East missions. We were bombing seven countries when Trump took office, and probably 99 percent of voters couldn’t have named them.
When Trump tried to withdraw troops from two countries, what happened? Congress, snoring on this issue since at least 2001, threw a fit that the president was acting unilaterally.
Seriously, if we were to replace every member of Congress with Big Mouth Billy Bass plaques, we would probably have a more meaningful discussion regarding war and peace.