From the “Imperial Presidencies Are Fine, Just as Long as the Imperial President in Question is a President of MY Choosing” Department

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on August 30, 2011

Gene Healy reveals anew that those who denounced the supposedly excessive use of Presidential power under the Bush Administration have no problem with the excessive use of Presidential power under the Obama Administration, most notably in the context of the prosecution of the war kinetic military action in Libya:

Last week brought some Twitter triumphalism from the Center for American Progress, with the liberal think tank’s @ThinkProgress feed linking to House Speaker John’ Boehner’s June complaint that the president had violated the War Powers Act.

CAP demanded: “Does John Boehner still believe U.S. military operations in Libya are illegal?”

Why shouldn’t he? After all, that’s what the president’s own attorney general believes. Obama’s Office of Legal Counsel, backed by Attorney General Eric Holder, told Obama in May that under the War Powers Resolution, he needed congressional authorization to continue bombing Libya after the WPR’s time limit expired.

That wasn’t what the president wanted to hear, so he got a second opinion from Harold Koh, the servile State Department legal adviser, who argued that we weren’t engaged in “hostilities” under the WPR because Gadhafi couldn’t effectively return fire.

It was a law professor’s version of a “Jedi mind trick”: “These are not the ‘hostilities’ you’re thinking of.” It didn’t convince anyone, but, hey, at least Obama doesn’t “swagger.”

Has it occurred to anyone in Obama’s cheering section that the Koh precedent will be available for use by future presidents? And that they might come to rue embracing the argument that it’s perfectly legal for the president to, Zeus-like, rain down destruction from on high wherever he chooses, without so much as a by-your-leave to Congress?

It will occur to them once we have a Republican President. Bet your bottom dollar on that fact.

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