Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 8, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

IDIOCRACY....Curt Weldon's latest bright idea:

The second-ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, who is a strong supporter of the U.S. military mission in Iraq, has drafted a resolution that would give military commanders instead of President Bush or Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld decision-making authority over when American troops should return home....Weldon is one of the foremost Republican military experts in the House.

....Weldon initially contemplated introducing his proposal as regular legislation, but opted instead for a sense of the House resolution after learning that legislation would conflict with the presidents constitutional war powers.

Let me get this straight. Weldon is one of the "foremost Republican military experts in the House," but he didn't realize that stripping the president of the authority to determine troop dispositions would be a plainly unconsitutional infringement of his commander-in-chief powers? Apparently the Republican Party really is a living, breathing example of the fictional world of Idiocracy. How else could a guy like Weldon rise to the top of the heap?

Kevin Drum 12:17 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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shorter Weldon: let's make it like you guys want to pull out - then i can pretend like i don't want to! i win!

Posted by: cleek on September 8, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

In the republican party, shit rises to the top.

Posted by: Gary on September 8, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

How can anyone say this is un-constitutional? First of all, there's no wording. It's just a vague idea. Second, it's just a sense-of-the-Congress resolution.

However, I agree with Kevin that it's idiotic grandstanding.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 8, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

How else could a guy like Weldon rise to the top of the heap?

Maybe it has to do with the quality of his opposition.

Posted by: Shelby on September 8, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Weldon is one of the "foremost Republican military experts in the House," but he didn't realize that stripping the president of the authority to determine troop dispositions would be a plainly unconsitutional infringement of his commander-in-chief powers?

Not to mention that it also deprives George W Bush of his powers as head of the unitary executive. Weldon is a IDIOT.

Posted by: Al on September 8, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Let's be straight here:

Republican congressmen decide they wanna do something until their aides research Constitutional Law 101 and realize that it can't be done. So they set about finding a loophole that'll satisfy their partisan intentions.

The pResident decides he wants to do something, then his aides make it so, regardless of the law. Either way The Rule of Law is not a priority or even a serious consideration with these Bozos (with all due apologies to Sir Bozo.)

Any questions?

Posted by: HRlaughed on September 8, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm writing my senators and representatives to let them know that I want to see a resolution where I am given the authority to redeploy troops.

I am also demanding a crown and a scepter.

Posted by: Wonderin on September 8, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

You guys realize that Weldon made his reputation running the motorcycle gangs out of beautiful, downtown Marcus Hook PA? Why isn't the world this simple?

Posted by: warlock on September 8, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

"How else could a guy like Weldon rise to the top of the heap?"

Because the heap isn't very tall.

Posted by: global yokel on September 8, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to be a little-discussed fact that the President is the C-in-C of the military only in time of war.

However it has been so ingrained in our rhetoric that Bush is the "C-in-C" of the "War on Terror" because that makes it sound like has gravatis or something we lose site of the fact that the congress has not declared war.

It is not outrageous not to consider Bush the "C-in-C" of the military. War has not been declared. Only some "military actions" have. It is perfectly constitutional to have the Joint Chiefs of Staff report directly to a congressional committee, unless war is declared. Then the president has to be in charge.

Posted by: Alan on September 8, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

I would say he likely represents the general level of understanding of his constitutents (and the rest of the American public) on such basic civic matters as Separation of Powers and other Constitutional concerns. And that's our biggest problem. We no longer teach civics in our schools because ......?

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh on September 8, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Weldon is a IDIOT.

He is, however, an excellent grammarian.

And an example of how desperate Repubs are to distance themeselves from the Chimperor-in-Chief.
And he really, really supports the troops. Hurrah!

Posted by: Kenji on September 8, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK
Let me get this straight. Weldon is one of the "foremost Republican military experts in the House," but he didn't realize that stripping the president of the authority to determine troop dispositions would be a plainly unconsitutional infringement of his commander-in-chief powers?

"Commander-in-Chief powers" confuses the issue. The designation of the President as commander-in-chief is not a "power", its simply a limitation on the power of Congress to set rules for the military, specifically, it prohibits Congress from placing paramount command authority for the military anywhere else but in the hands of the President.

That is, while this does violate the C-in-C provision, its pretty much the only kind of thing that does: taking paramount authority for all or one kind of command decision out of the hands of the President and placing it elsewhere.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 8, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK
It seems to be a little-discussed fact that the President is the C-in-C of the military only in time of war.

No, its not a "little-discussed fact" because its not a fact of any kind. The President is Commander-in-Chief of the military at all times, and also Commander-in-Chief of that part of the militia of the several states "when called into the actual service of the United States".

There is no "time of war" restriction on either.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 8, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

How else could a guy like Weldon rise to the top of the heap?

History indicates that to the top will rise whichever Republican is best at churning out cover-your-ass bullshit or stir-up-the-born-agains bullshit or infallible-America-red-white-and-blue bullshit or welfare-queen-cadillac bullshit or unregulated-free-market bullshit, or you-name-it-we got-it bullshit.

Posted by: olds88 on September 8, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmmm...Weldon is up for election this year...Let's check the website...

No mention that Weldon is a 'Publican. Interesting...Oh; and this from the Washington Post:

Representing a district immediately to the south of Philadelphia, Rep. Curt Weldon (R) has become accustomed to winning with overwhelming margins. This year he'd be content with any sort of win over Democrat Joe Sestak, who retired after three decades in the Navy as a vice admiral. He said he entered politics at age 54 because I believe invading Iraq was not the right decision.
Sestak's campaign has flourished while Weldon's has floundered. The former admiral outraised Weldon by $15,000 from April 1 to June 30 and is now well within shouting distance in cash-on-hand -- $1.15 million for Weldon, $994,000 for Sestak. Weldon hasn't had a real race in a long time, and it shows.

More about Weldon here, including the weird Moonie coronation ceremony:

Weldon spoke at the coronation of Sun Myung Moon "as humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent", on March 23, 2004. His office originally vehemently denied his attendance, then when he was revealed to be a co-chair organizer of the event claimed that he had intended to attend but could not because of a scheduling conflict; then when a photo surfaced of him speaking at the event while standing next to a lifesize photo of him pinning a Unification Church medal on Moammar Al Qadhafi, stated that he had left immediately after the speech and had no knowledge of what else went on.

The guy sounds like a loon, desperate to do anything to get himself re-elected.

Posted by: grape_crush on September 8, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

I believe the correct word is "kakistocracy."

Although, "idiocracy" wins big points for being more accessible and pointed.

;}

Posted by: CaliforniaDrySherry on September 8, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

More stunningly, how could his staff be so incredibly dumb?

Posted by: Reader on September 8, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

I believe the correct word is "kakistocracy."

More like cacastocracy.
Because they're a bunch of stupid shits.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 8, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

No, its not a "little-discussed fact" because its not a fact of any kind. The President is Commander-in-Chief of the military at all times, and also Commander-in-Chief of that part of the militia of the several states "when called into the actual service of the United States".

Refer to: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/article02/07.html#3

Among other passages:

'The propriety of admitting the president to be commander in chief, so far as to give orders, and have a general superintendency, was admitted. But it was urged, that it would be dangerous to let him command in person, without any restraint, as he might make a bad use of it. The consent of both houses of Congress ought, therefore, to be required, before he should take the actual command.

OK, so he has the title of C-in-C. But he doesn't take "actual command" unless and until Congress consents. The proposal is to withdraw that consent, and although you may disagree, it is clearly not an outrageous and unprecedented proposition.

Posted by: Alan on September 8, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

I do not know anything about Weldon in particular, but my gut instinct is that what he is saying is a lot smarter (or less stupid, if you want) than Bush or the rest of the Republicans and that it helps more if we welcome those trying to rejoin the reality-based universe.
I also understand how angry and frustrated many of us are and sympathise with the desire to pick the Republicans apart.

Posted by: kevin_r on September 8, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

As fun as it is, to barbecue Curt Weldon, it's only fair to point out that the proposal is a non-binding resolution that it is the sense of the House that the President should do this. It doesn't and can't force the President to take this gratuitous advice.

The real story here is Weldon's implicit acknowledgement that the political leaders in the administration can't be trusted to make these decisions in the national interest.

Posted by: Vance W on September 8, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

I do not know anything about Weldon in particular, but my gut instinct is that what he is saying is a lot smarter (or less stupid, if you want) than Bush or the rest of the Republicans and that it helps more if we welcome those trying to rejoin the reality-based universe.

Uh ... no offense intended, kevin_r, honestly, but it's clear you really don't know anything about Crazy Curt.

Google him a little. Start with the link provided above, which discusses his appearance at the Sun Myung Moon ceremony. That's just a start.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on September 8, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

How can anyone say this is un-constitutional? First of all, there's no wording. It's just a vague idea. Second, it's just a sense-of-the-Congress resolution.

Um, the article noted that "Weldon initially contemplated introducing his proposal as regular legislation." (emphasis mine)

I'd suspect "ex-liberal" of a lack of reading comprehension, but given his/her/its track record, plain dishonesty is a better explanation.

Posted by: Gregory on September 8, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Run, run, run, run, run away.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 8, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK
OK, so he has the title of C-in-C. But he doesn't take "actual command" unless and until Congress consents.

The piece you cite is referring to "actual command" in the sense of taking personal command of troops in the field, not that of having paramount authority over them. Further, it refers to a position which was urged, but that was not adopted in the framing of the provision (as demonstrated in 1794, when President Washington took personal command of troops in the field to suppres the Whiskey Rebellion, with no such specific authorization only the general authority to summon the militia). In fuller context:

Story wrote in his Commentaries: “The propriety of admitting the president to be commander in chief, so far as to give orders, and have a general superintendency, was admitted. But it was urged, that it would be dangerous to let him command in person, without any restraint, as he might make a bad use of it. The consent of both houses of Congress ought, therefore, to be required, before he should take the actual command. The answer then given was, that though the president might, there was no necessity that he should, take the command in person; and there was no probability that he would do so, except in extraordinary emergencies, and when he was possessed of superior military talents.”
The proposal is to withdraw that consent, and although you may disagree, it is clearly not an outrageous and unprecedented proposition.

No, the proposal is place paramount authority in some other officer than the President over a military matter, which is outside the power of the Congress, and the precise point of the Commander-in-Chief designation. No one but the President can have supreme command authority on any military matter. Congress can govern the military and prohibit certain actions by the military, and by so doing limit what the President may authorize (there is dispute over the extent of even this power, though.) But Congress clearly cannot place paramount command authority over any military matter anywhere but in the hands of the Constitutional Commander-in-Chief.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 8, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: You make a good argument. Reading more carefully I think your interpretation of the passage I cited is better than my own initial reading.

Still. Although Weldon may be a fruitcake what is coming out is clear: the "C-in-C" can no longer be trusted with running the military effort in Iraq. The obvious constitutional correction would be impeachment and removal, but it is equally obvious that such a move would be impossible (impeachment happens in the house anyway) at this time and probably not good for the country. So what are the other options?

Personally, at this point I would trust any committee of 6 senators (even if they were all from the majority) to direct the JCOS rather than anyone currently in the White House. Make Bush a figurehead if you have to but we would be all better off if that was done.

Posted by: Alan on September 8, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Marcus Hook, PA is a half-hour drive from here. And I was alive when it was run by the motorcycle gangs. Two points:

1. They're still there, although smaller than they were at their peak.

2. Weldon's "method" consisted of letting them run amok until rival factions killed most of the low-level soldiers off. The higher-ups then declared a truce and went on with the business of supplying amphetamines.

Posted by: CN on September 8, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Cleek gets it right: Weldon is actually a living, breathing example of desperation.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 8, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK
Although Weldon may be a fruitcake what is coming out is clear: the "C-in-C" can no longer be trusted with running the military effort in Iraq. The obvious constitutional correction would be impeachment and removal, but it is equally obvious that such a move would be impossible (impeachment happens in the house anyway) at this time and probably not good for the country. So what are the other options?

Well, given how its an election year, electing people who make the first option possible seems to be the logical response if that is the right choice but the present Congress is unwilling to do its job.

Congress doesn't get a pass for "You know we can't be expected to do the right and Constitutional thing, so instead just accept an unconstitutional 'alternative'."

Posted by: cmdicely on September 8, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Crazy Curt's district. Yes, he was kissing Moonie butt (and Gaddafi, too!).

He was also the guy that was going to go over to Iraq and dig up the WMDs that the Army couldn't find, keeping his mission secret from the military so that they couldn't steal his thunder.
But he wimped out (not wised up) and cancelled the trip.

As far as I can tell, he has *zero* real military knowledge or experience. That doesn't keep him from carrying water for military contractors, in particular Boeing and their criminally unsafe Osprey deathtrap.

Curt HAD one big problem: no prospect for career advancement, unless he made a big splash somehow. He had a secure base amoung Delco's fat dumb and happy country club repugs, but no way up.

But now the issues and demographics have changed. Sestak is a REAL threat to Curt. When driving through Newtown Square (Delco, in a somewhat reddish area) there were people holding up Sestak signs at major intersections. I've NEVER seen that in the 'burbs before, for ANY candidate.

Crazy Curt is toast unless he pulls off a miracle, and I think he knows it too. Desperate and dumb, it's just pure comedy gold.

Posted by: Satan luvvs Repugs on September 8, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

"How else could a guy like Weldon rise to the top of the heap?"
________________

The same way any of our sterling legislators reach the top - through seniority.

Truth be told, everyone's entitled to one brain fart a day - maybe that was Weldon's.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 8, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Truth be told, everyone's entitled to one brain fart a day

Pretty much sums up the GOP platform, doesn't it?

Posted by: Disputo on September 8, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

"i'm coo-coo for coco-puffs!"

Posted by: curt weldon on September 9, 2006 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

I have long suspected that one reason why so many Republicans in congress have so little apparent regard for our constitution might be because few of them have ever actually read it.

Posted by: CalD on September 9, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

And I would like to give Curt Weldon's policy-making responsibilities to any high school senior who has studied civics, understands separation of powers and can describe the purpose of each of the Constitution's seven articles.

Bonus question for Curt: How many amendments to the Constitution have been ratified?

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 9, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

The stupidity is inextricably entailed with seniority, a universal DemaGOP/Republicrat trait linked with that longevity in public office that best enables a legislator to bring home the pork to his constituency, budget cycle after budget cycle.

The longer a "public servant" spends in Congress, the less connected with reality and the Constitution he/she becomes. This comes as a surprise to anyone?

Posted by: RDB on September 11, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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