Part of the slipperyness of this presidential campaign can be seen in the taunts registered against John Kerry by the Republicans — “he voted for the 87 billion before he voted against it!” And I agree that Kerry’s explanations are lame, and that he is a flip-flopper, and so on.
But none of this erases the fact that if the war in Iraq is in fact a war, then it is unconstitutional. It is unconstitutional because Congress did not declare it. If Congress had declared war, as is their constitutional prerogative, then we would not be dealing with any of this nonsense. Kerry would have voted for or against the war. Period.
Voting for or against 87 billion is neither here nor there. Such bills and riders do not have the focus that declarations of war have. Representatives and senators may vote a particular way because of this item or that in any omnibus package. But after Pearl Harbor, the declaration of war against Japan did not have any pork barrel provisions that would bring electricity to remote sections of West Virginia. It was a straight up or down vote.
So this 87 billion debate is bogus. The president has usurped one of the constitutional prerogatives of Congress, and Congress has abdicated. Consequently, they deserve each other.