A diverse gaggle of online media outlets (from Drudge and Hot Air to Wonkette and HuffPo) are enamored with the idea that a series of 2007 speeches that Joe Biden gave regarding the possible impeachment of George W. Bush are now applicable to President Obama‘s Libya policy.With varying degrees of shrillness, they’re playing “Gotcha!” with Biden’s promise that a unilateral move to war with Iran would be met with impeachment, and applying that promise to Obama’s Libya policy.
The premise is based on a legal memo that Biden talked about on the stump in 2007, augmented with the following two YouTube clips:
I am not one, who if you’ve observed me for some time, I am not one who’s engaged in excessive populist rhetoric. I’m not one that pits the rich against the poor. I’m not one who’s gone out there and made false threats against presidents about, and god love him he’s a great guy, I’m not Dennis Kucinich saying impeach everybody now.
Now, it’s important to realize that there’s no way in the wide world that President Barack Obama is going to get impeached over this. As Dave Weigel pointed out Tuesday, the prevailing attitude in Congress over the matter of congressional approval is best exemplified by the statements made by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who each basically said they’d simply rubber-stamp whatever Obama wanted to do. “I’d be glad to vote on it afterwards,” said Graham, all but cementing Congress’ ornamental role in military conflict.
Oversight of these matters was a responsibility that Congress abdicated a long, long time ago. (It better suits the modern legislator to preserve the chance to score cheap political points off of warmaking than it does actually providing oversight over warmaking in the first place.)
Despite some superficial similarities between the two situations, it’s also a poor comparison. Biden was talking about a unilateral, full-scale attack on Iran, not a UN-led no-fly zone, for which there is plenty of precedent. Whether the latter is a good idea is a subject for legitimate debate, but it’s just not the same thing.
That said, though, this meme fits in with a fascinating trend that has seen a wide range of reactions, from a wide range of sources, to President Obama’s Libya policy, making strange bedfellows of people like Michael Moore and Rudy Giuliani. On its face, there’s nothing wrong with this, it’s even a little bit healthy for such a vigorous debate to take place, but a lot of it is scattershot nonsense and hyperbole. The criticisms the President faces are so varied, it’s tough to know where to even start the conversation, and this silly comparison of Bush and Obama is just another example of that.
Have a tip we should know? email@example.com