Libya and Congress: Fingerprints on the Murder Weapon

Outside the speaker’s lobby, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., gave reporters some details and rationales for tough votes that will be coming on Libya. A vote to cut funding for the intervention unless the president comes to Congress; a vote to ban ground troops .

“If George W. Bush had done what President Obama has done,” said Cole, “Senator Obama would have been the first senator on the floor of the Senate condemning him for disregarding the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution… if the debate’s been incoherent it’s because the policy’s been incoherent.”

There are really two possibilities for what Congress can do – pass something with teeth, or get big bipartisan votes on bills that don’t pass. I was struck by how Cole characterized the first possibility.

“At the end of the day, you’re just better off if you ask for congressional authority,” he said. “There’s an old saying: Get as many fingerprints on the murder weapon as you can. Then everybody is on your side. They can’t get away. The president hasn’t done that. It’s a big mistake.”