Here’s why “left” and “right” are all one to me

Actually, what this is is ONE reason why the distinctions between left and right — which seem to mean so much (and of course, I would say far too much) to so many in this country — are of little concern, and NO appeal, to me:

The Few, the Proud, the Anti-Libya NFZ Republicans

Posted Monday, March 21, 2011 12:31 PM | By David Weigel

The Republicans who out-and-out oppose attacks on Libya without congressional authorization are few, and their names are not surprising anyone who follows debates over war funding. Here’s freshman Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich, who was backed by Ron Paul last year.

It’s not enough for the President simply to explain military actions in Libya to the American people, after the fact, as though we are serfs. When there is no imminent threat to our country, he cannot launch strikes without authorization from the American people, through our elected Representatives in Congress. No United Nations resolution or congressional act permits the President to circumvent the Constitution.

I love that libertarian indignation in “as though we are serfs.” He means it, too. To people of certain ideological stripe, we are all right on the verge of serfdom, every minute.

Here’s the president’s letter ‘splaining things to Congress, by the way. The 119th such letter sent by a president.

Beyond the serf stuff, do some of those phrases sound exactly like the antiwar left to you? Yeah, to me, too. But there’s nothing surprising about it. I think I shared the story with you recently of one of my wife’s leftist professors who supported George Wallace because he’d never get us involved in a Vietnam.

Now, for you Paulistas: Do I not care about the Constitution? Of course I do. And before this nation actually goes to real WAR with an actual other NATION,  the kind of debate that leads to the declaration of war is a good thing, and the Framers were wise to include the requirement — particularly given how weak and vulnerable this nation was in those days, and how ruinous a war with one of the great powers could have been.

But of course, that very generation, and the first president of the limited-national-gummint party, Thomas Jefferson, did not see such a declaration as necessary to deal with the Barbary Pirates. You know, the shores of Tripoli?

They DID think it meet for Congress to authorize the president to act — as Congress did before the Iraq invasion, and before the Gulf War.

If anything, the issue here is whether Obama should have paused long enough to wait for such a formal authorization in this case. Did he act too soon? Did he cave too quickly to Hillary telling him to “man up” and act? I don’t think so, given the circumstances — the dire situation on the ground in Libya, the fact that the Brits and the French (yes, the French!) were ready to go. But frankly, I didn’t think about it before just now. Should we have had a big national debate between the UN resolution and action (regardless of whether it then would have been too late)?

What do y’all think?

11 thoughts on “Here’s why “left” and “right” are all one to me

  1. Brad

    Subquestion — is the protest from the libertarian right really about the legal principle, or is it about the UN? (In other words, a nationalism issue.) Or both?

  2. Andrew

    Today, the House of Commons in London debated the British military’s involvement in Libya.

    The Crown gives the government (the PM) a LOT more latitude in waging military conflicts than the President & Congress relationship. Still, Cameron thought it necessary to hold a debate today on the matter and answer questions directly from the members of the Commons.

    I think it would be appropriate if Obama at least did something like that here.

    I honestly don’t know if US military involvement in Libya is the right thing. Just don’t, and I’ve been reading about it for a few weeks. I know the cost of what the US has spent has probably already gone over $100 million. That should justify Congressional oversight from all parties.

    As far as the libertarians go, I suspect their is some deep seeded principle, but having US involvement directly proceeded by UN authorization did not sit well with them.

  3. SJ Reidhead

    The libertarian and far right lack of knowledge about history would be funny if we were not dealing with some very critical times. As a Republican, I find these people embarrassing.

    The Pink Flamingo

  4. Rob

    I agree with your sentiments here -but I also believe that there are huge and interesting differences between the left and the right.

    You were right to use the “libertarian” tag when talking about that Congressman’s quote above. I would not hold up the “Paulistas” as you put them as conservatives, though – they don’t represent modern conservative thought.

  5. Juan Caruso

    Brad, re:
    “To people of certain ideological stripe, we are all right on the verge of serfdom, every minute.”

    In one sentence you dismissively
    marginalize the sanity of an ideological opponent. Very emotionally put, I might add, and well and good, as long as you can support factually a pittance of related logic.

    Some of us shall eagerly await any facts you can offer.

  6. bud

    This is not, I repeat NOT a “left” vs “right” issue at all. This is about what’s right and wrong. Whether you agree or not with the “no fly zone” authorization the anti-war folks, whether leftists (Dennis Kocinich) or libertarians (Ron Paul) are on pretty solid Constitutional footing here. And in a bipartisan way to boot.

    The Constitution clearly requires congress to declare war. In the case of an emergency the president can act to defend the nation. I’m sure no one would have objected to Bush authorizing defense of the nation on 9-11-01. But here there was no national emergency involved. If Benghazi falls it will have no effect on our security. Heck even George W. Bush asked congress for congressional authorization for his invasion. (None of what he said was truthful but I digress). Seriously, given all the ranting and raving over the national debt doesn’t it make sense to look at this type of spending?

  7. tim

    Holding the envelope to my swami wrapped head: There is a debate. There always is. There will be no consensus, though. We will know the wisdom when/if the dictator is deposed. After that, there is likely chaos. One thing that is interesting is this will unite the far left and far right in criticizing the Centrist Obama.

    One thing that I find interesting about the Libya situation is we are in an essentially African, not necessarily Arabian centric arena. Khadaffi viewed his role as potentially the Great Ruler of Africa, not the Arab world. Barack Obama’s Presidency may resonate in ususual ways here, as opposed to Afghanistan.

  8. bud

    The Barberi Pirates example is a perfect good one to show just how un-necessary the Libyan intervention is. The pirates did pose a threat to Americans and to American overseas commerce. And by the way we have a 2011 version of pirates threatening commerce. Why don’t we deal with that REAL threat and stop all this nonsense about imaginary threats.

  9. bud

    As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s deja vu all over again”. Seems like we’re once again siding with “freedom fighters” in a Muslim country who have a history of extremist sentiments. We did that in Afghanistan in the 80s and now it’s Libya. Eventually if they win we’re likely to see a new radical nation emerge in Libya that will have anti-American sentiments. Just check out this excerpt from Huffington Post:

    “Eastern Libya has been described by U.S. diplomats as a breeding ground for Islamist extremism. In diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, the region’s young men were said to have “nothing to lose” by resorting to violence. Sermons in the local mosques are “laced with phraseology urging worshippers to support jihad,” one diplomat reported.”

  10. Jim Duffy

    One point that has rarely been mentioned, other than there is a 90 day period the President can call for military action, before the Congress must declare war, is that the “left has not been more vocal as they were when the Bush adminstrations had wars in the middle east. Guess it is Ok for a liberal to do without the hate and personal attacks.

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