Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich didn't stop at blasting President Obama on his Libya war policy recently in a meeting of ultra-liberal Congressional Democrats. He practically invited Congress to consider an impeachment discussion of Obama.
Kucinich didn't even stop there. He rammed the impeachment point home further in a follow-up interview in which he flatly said that the president went squarely against the Constitution in approving the Libya military action. So far, no other Democrat went quite that far. But several key Congressional Democrats including Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), and Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), did openly grouse that Obama went too far in not getting approval of Congress for his action.
There is no dispute that presidents have a legal, constitutional and political responsibility to get approval from Congress when the issue is waging war. This obligation is clearly spelled out in the War Powers Act. And those who made that point were right to make it. But Kucinich and the handful of Democrats who ripped Obama about Libya certainly know that there is virtually no possibility that Obama will blatantly abuse that power as Bush did in Iraq and Afghanistan and commit American ground troops to combat in Libya. This would be a gross violation of the provisions of the Act.
Obama backed the Libyan no-fly zone because the United Nations Security Council by unanimous vote backed it. The House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees backed the action. More importantly, the Arab League requested that the United Nations impose a no-fly zone over Libya. And nearly every humanitarian group around has backed it.
But, most important he backed it because it's the politically and morally right thing to do. Kucinich and others would have screamed the loudest if Obama had done nothing and Gaddafi slaughtered thousands in a blood-lust rampage against the rebel groups. In his case, and that of every other dictator that's ever been under siege from their own people, it always leads to the slaughter of innocent women, children and elderly, under the guise of restoring order. If Obama hadn't acted, he would have been even more loudly condemned as being weak, indecisive and a chronic ditherer when it comes to making tough decisions on foreign policy issues.
The real troubling thing about Kucinich's far-fetched hint that Obama could be subject to impeachment is that there are more than a few Republicans that would gladly relish the thought of having a contentious, distracting, and uproarious debate over Obama's conduct not only in Libya but also over every other one of his policies. This would be more than a classic case of politics makes strange bedfellows, it would be a major destabilizing debate just at the point when Obama is gearing up in his push for re-election in 2012.
The GOP presidential field is weak, divided, and top heavy with controversy and even loathing. Just mention Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and Newt Gingrich and listen to the loud groans among a majority of voters, and that includes a significant number of Republicans.
The outbursts from Kucinich and other Democrats, then, about Obama violating Congressional trust and prerogatives on Libya, simply adds to the political confusion. And that's political manna from heaven for the GOP. Kucinich and Obama's severest Democratic critics hope they can push Obama off his cautious, centrist stance on financial reform, tax cuts, government spending on jobs and more aggressive action on the home foreclosure crisis. Libya was just the latest, and the most convenient way to do that.
Any other time and place, it would be a fair and even needed tactic to get the administration's full attention on the issues that Kucinich and liberal Democrats have pushed, prodded, and hectored Obama on for the last two years. But that tactic at this crucial stage of Obama's presidency is fraught with political perils.
Kucinich, for instance, has found a warm reception on some conservative talk shows; shows that normally would not give him the time of day at any other time. But a lambaste of Obama coming from a liberal Democrat is something that the Right will always gleefully welcome. At any other time, Kucinich would lustily demand and cheer the action Obama and the United Nations took. The fact that he and few others don't, but chose to nitpick instead tells more about their ongoing political anger at Obama than any real concern over whether Obama snubbed his nose at Congress. The GOP noise machine is in delirium at this. They get their fondest wish of pillorying Obama without saying a word, all courtesy of the Democrats.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a national Capitol Hill broadcast radio talk show on KTYM Radio Los Angeles and WFAX Radio Washington D.C. streamed on The Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on blogtalkradio.com and wfax.com and internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com