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Just sayin' II

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Message David Waldman

We find ourselves involved in a war solely because of Presidential action. The Supreme Court has effectively destroyed the War Powers Act as a Congressional check on illegal Presidential wars. Pundits are saying that Congress must find a new way to play a part in war-making decisions - must strengthen its oversight and rely more heavily on the power of the purse. I agree with these cream-puff remedies but suggest emphatically that what is more important is that Congress comply with the provisions of the safeguarding package that our Founders provided in the Constitution for keeping a bridle on the chief executive, of which the provision for impeachment is an essential part. Is it responsible for Congress to use all of the safeguards except the one the Founders considered most important? The truth is that when the decision is whether to wage an undeclared war, Presidents can do as they please. The Senate and House Intelligence Committees and the Congressional military committees will be told something about it, usually after the fact and only when public hysteria has reached a level where criticism will be stigmatized as un-American. A few members of Congress will complain in unnoticed speeches. The big newspapers will mention the actions "with some concern." A majority of the public will support the President, cheifly because the war has already begun and the "enemy" has been identified by the President as a serious threat to our nation. So, what are we to do? I suggest a conservative return to the remedy suggested in the Constitution.... If we do not, all future Presidents will be able to claim immunity for unlawful conduct of foreign affairs. We have a responsibility to draw this line in the nuclear age.

                -- Rep. Don Edwards (D-CA)
                   Chairman, House Subcommittee on Constitutional and Civil Rights
                   August 9, 1983

Nineteen eighty-three. You wouldn't have guessed that, would you?

It's funny how Arthur Schlesinger predicted in 1974 that if we didn't impeach Nixon, we'd get more of the same from future presidents.

And it's funny how we got exactly that, causing Don Edwards to predict that if we didn't impeach Reagan, we'd get more of the same from future presidents.

But of course, people who say the same today are just a bunch of DFHs who want to cost Democrats the next election. And why would it cost Democrats the next election? Because despite all that Nixon, Reagan and W did, the only impeachment we know anything about is... Clinton's.

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David Waldman is a Contributing Editor blogging as Kagro X at, the largest and most visited political blog in the world. A non-practicing attorney, a former Capitol Hill aide, his online work includes a comprehensive study of the Senate's "nuclear option," written at (more...)
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