Friday, February 16, 2007

A number of people agree that the Congressional vote against Bush's surge is meaningless... and that if the Democrats were truly serious, they ought to try and defund the war.

Well, with the (no duh!) declaration that I am no constitutional scholar, I would argue that Congress can't do that, that they can't tie Bush's hand by micromanaging the military.

Congress (assuming Bush goes along, or provided they have the votes to override a veto) gets to decide how much money goes for defense. But I don't think they have the right to tie Bush's hands with fine print about how that money is spent. Bush, as the Commander in Chief gets (or ought to be able) to decide where and how the money gets spent.

That means that Congress ought not be able to force the Pentagon to buy (or not buy) anything. That means that they ought not be able to dictate, as Murtha wants to do, readiness requirements. They don't get to decide where military bases are located. They don't get to approve promotions or duty assignments. They don't get to set troop levels. And they don't get to decide on how much money is to be spent on which conflict. In other words, if Bush wanted to spend every dollar of the defense budget in Iraq, he has the constitutional power to do so.

Congress gets to declare war and they get to appropriate money for defense. But once they've done so, it's for them to shut up and stay out of the way.

Yes, I know that isn't how it works... but it ought to be... for Bush and for whomever succeeds him, whether Democrat or Republican.