The Post reports:
On a 90-to-10 vote, the Senate on Tuesday voted to shelve a resolution proposed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on the U.S. involvement in Libya, four days after Paul and a fellow freshman, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), threatened to hold up Senate action until Paul’s measure was brought to the floor.
Fifty-three Democrats and 37 Republicans voted to table Paul’s resolution, while only 10 Republicans voted to proceed on it. In addition to Paul and Lee, the other eight Republicans voting against tabling the measure were Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Jim DeMint (S.C.), John Ensign (Nev.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Jeff Session (Ala.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Pat Toomey (Pa.).
The motion was a petulant one, quoting the president’s words from 2007: “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” First of all, that’s not in the Constitution and is not a viable interpretation of the president’s powers. Second, Congress doesn’t get to circumscribe the powers of the president. And third, we’re in a war (several, actually), and now is not the time to undercut an already less-than-ideal commander in chief.
It’s a mystery why those eight Republicans would vote to continue discussion over this. (Some of the no votes may have simply wanted to have a debate.) But the co-sponsors are a different matter. What is their excuse? If Lee, for example, wants to be an effective conservative and not regarded as a crackpot, why is he casting such a vote? (I think my initial assessment, unfortunately, has proved dead on.) Moreover, it does cast doubt on the moniker “Constitutional conservative” when those sporting the label don’t understand what the Constitution means.
But let’s also step back for a moment. It is a very good thing when 90 members of the Senate behave like grownups on matters of war and peace. Whatever one’s criticisms of the president’s conduct of the Libya war (and I haven’t been shy about airing mine), now is not the time for gamesmanship. It certainly isn’t the time to try, by pulling out an old quote, to make the president look foolish. In fact, all the resolution did was make the its sponsors look silly and confirm, thank goodness, that there is no significant isolationist tendency in the Senate.