Pity poor John Boehner (R-OH), Republican Speaker of the House. While busily scheming to dismantle Medicare and plunder Social Security, while plotting and planning to eviscerate America's ability to govern business and industry, husband the environment, and cope with the mounting devastation wrought by cumulative natural disasters, all while continuing to ignore America's real problems of stagflation, tepid job growth, and revenue reform, Boehner thought he'd earned a little break to indulge his favorite hobby: taunting the President of the United States.
President Barack Obama sent Congress a letter May 20, asking for approval for the Libya liberation mission, as it'd been 60 days since America's involvement in the Libya intervention began. Turns out the 1973 War Powers Act said the President ought to get some sort of Congressional okay within 60 days of his reporting a use of force, unless that's become way tough because the US had been reduced to a radioactive wasteland, in which case it's a gimme.
Along came a perfect foil for Boehner, the nerdy, ever-liberal fellow Ohioan, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). Kucinich, who's opposed to any war any time, wanted Congress to debate America's involvement in the NATO campaign to evict Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy, and drafted a resolution calling for the withdrawal of American troops participating in that effort.
Boehner thought this was an excellent opportunity to tweak the President's nose, forcing him to defend a military action, albeit a very tiny one, before a nation weary of fighting Middle East wars. Boehner undoubtedly was sharpening his pencils and scribbling reams on how the President had exceeded his authority, and how the President was wasting billions, or at least thousands, on a war of choice, feverishly flipping through old newspaper clippings of what Democrats said when the sainted George W. Bush decided to fight Al Qaeda by handing billions of dollars to Dick Cheney's Halliburton Corporation while slaughtering tens of thousands of Iraqis who'd never even heard of Al Qaeda.
Not seeing any reason for a protracted debate on something he apparently really didn't care either way about, Boehner scheduled Kucinich's H. Con. Res 51 for a vote. Boy, won't that tweak Obama's nose, he must have thought. Stick in his craw. Be a thorn in his side.
While Boehner was thinking of more metaphors for prank-induced woe, two very unfortunate things happened that suddenly spoiled his fun.
First, NATO Wednesday formally extended its Libya campaign for another 90 days. This was to be expected, and one reason why Kucinich was so eager to get a hearing for his anti-war bill. Even in a country with math and science scores as low as America, another 90 days on top of the months NATO's been running Rafales and Tornados in and out of Tripoli International's air traffic control space has got to add up to more than 60 days at some point.
Second, and here's the sharply breaking curveball that froze Boehner for a called strike two, Kucinich's resolution, co-sponsored by two Republicans, Dan Burton (R-IN) and Timothy Johnson (R-IL), as well as two Democrats, Michael Capuano (D-MA) and, of course, the ever-pacific Barbara Lee (D-CA), gained a ton of steam and looked like it might actually pass.
The turn of events sent Boehner scrambling like a Warner Bros. cartoon character chasing down a rival desert creature, with his legs making that whirlwind circle thing that kicks up big clouds of dust.
Boehner abruptly yanked Kucinich's bill from the promised vote. The broad coalition of Republicans also eager to tweak the President's nose, along with others who were queasy about the War Powers Act thing, anti-war libs, and tight-fisted fiscal conservatives might not have had enough votes to pass H. Con Res 51, but it was too close for Boehner's comfort. He wanted to poke Obama in the eye, not cause an international incident with America's allies while giving aide and comfort to a bloodthirsty dictator who'd never even written a check to the RNC.
Besides, Boehner had just enough brain cells to rub together that he didn't want to open a constitutional can of worms over the validity of the War Powers Act, a law no one's ever bothered to put to a deep constitutional, Attorney General yammering-, Supreme Court-ruling test. Both the Congress and succeeding Presidents probably prefer the murky, untested-borders thing when it comes to the War Powers Act, as it gives each side the illusion of having more power than they actually might, and no politician worth his golfing junket to Scotland wants to find out for sure exactly where any specific power might really end.
Things got even more out of hand when Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) got 63 co-sponsors for an anti-Libya bill that stopped short of demanding troop withdrawal (mostly pilots flying radar planes directing air traffic), but expressing disapproval of the US military intervention, and possibly leading to a congressional rebuke of Obama. Kucinich gleefully signed onto the new bill, but because Kucinich introduced his bill under the War Powers Act, he could still force a vote on his resolution in two weeks.
More whirlwind dust from Boehner. In the background, the Senate was tapping its collective toe, glancing at its watch and crossing its arms. A bipartisan bill approving the Libya action was expected to sail through that body whenever they wanted to put it to a vote.
The Pentagon chimed in. "Secretary Gates believes that for the United States, once committed to a NATO operation, to unilaterally abandon that mission would have enormous and dangerous long-term consequences," said Gates mouthpiece Geoff Morrell. In the real world, Robert Gates heads up Science Applications International Corporation, fergawdsakes, that vaguely-monikered, murky right-wing think tank that's been pulling ropes and levers behind the curtains of American foreign policy-making since the Nixon Administration.
At this point, Boehner was pulling apart crates from Acme products and tossing all sorts of ray-beams and anti-gravity sleds and rocket shoes into the air.
In a desperate bid to stop Congress from nixing the mission, Boehner announced that he was drafting his own Libya mission resolution, which he promised would take the President to task for not scraping and bowing and saying please and thank you to Congress before moving to prevent Khadafy's slaughter of thousands of freedom-loving democracy advocates in Benghazi.
Boehner said that his resolution would forbid US ground troops from being deployed in Libya (world class eye-roll from Gates), and demanded Obama answer 21 questions about Libya, such as goals, objectives, and costs, and generally called the President, in political terms, a big, fat, smelly poo-poo head.
In other words, Boehner's solution was to send The Leader of the Free World an essay test, and to kick the can down the road. Although, he did get to call the President a big, fat, smelly poo-poo head.