A false dilemma: Support a Dictator, or Support Oppressed People…How about instead support the “Constitution, limited government, limited executive power to kill people, [and] limited executive power to put our armed forces at risk…”

"Duh. It's for the children. Now don't ask any more questions."

When in doubt of winning a debate, re-frame it as a false dilemma.

In other words, make it impossible for people to choose anything but your side. Never mind if it means ignoring the Constitution or killing people, just to start.

It takes a lot of restraint to put things in their fair perspective. Evidently, Secretary Clinton does not have that restraint.

In a country, unique among nations, founded on ideas–not an ethnicity, race or creed, but on ideas–you would hope and expect that those in power would at least give a nod to those ideas when framing their arguments.

Nope. Just do it for the children. Or at least for oppressed people. Said Secretary Clinton:

But the bottom line is, whose side are you on? Are you on Qadhafi’s side or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been created to support them? For the Obama Administration, the answer to that question is very easy.

via Hillary Clinton to Libya War Critics: ‘Whose Side Are You On?’.

How could you not agree that taking the “side of the aspirations of the Libyan people” is the right thing? Heck, why stop with Libya? What about the Kurds? And the Tibetans? Or the Palestinians? What about their aspirations? Why aren’t we bombing their oppressors, too?

For just a moment, let’s ignore the sheer ridiculousness of coming to the aid of every oppressed group in the world, and just look at the point that Secretary Clinton is arguing. The crux of her argument, if unstated, is this:

  • That if you oppose the action in Libya because the President has not obtained Congressional approval, as required by the Constitution and the War Powers Act, you support Qadhafi.
  • And, just slightly more inane, it’s alright to ignore the law when you’re doing something to support the “aspirations” of oppressed people, never-mind the large amount of discretion the President already has to act in the United States interest abroad without asking for Congressional approval.

The people’s branch may be dramatically diminished from its intended scope in 1789, but it is still the branch of government that the President must go to for authorization for war. The President has not done so, and it looks like we are at war.

So, no, we are not on the side of Qadhafi, Madam Secretary. We are on the side of, as Ken put it, the”Constitution, limited government, limited executive power to kill people, [and] limited executive power to put our armed forces at risk[.]”

I can’t see a good reason why we shouldn’t question your actions in Libya.

But we should never let a small thing like the Constitution get in the way of taking advantage of a crisis, should we?

SEE ALSO: In Which Ken Asks His Secretary To Clear His Schedule Later So He Can Apologize For Completely Losing His Shit Like This (Popehat)

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One response to “A false dilemma: Support a Dictator, or Support Oppressed People…How about instead support the “Constitution, limited government, limited executive power to kill people, [and] limited executive power to put our armed forces at risk…”

  1. “[Y]ou would hope and expect that those in power would at least give a nod to those ideas when framing their arguments.”

    Hope springs eternal, right?

    You wonder what it is with the reluctance of the President to go to Congress in a situation like this — it seems that Congressional approval would be quickly forthcoming. At the Congressional level, you *could* frame this (to an extent) as a debate over “supporting Qadhafi” or “aiding the people of Libya.”

    Maybe it’s the fact that (especially this year) there is likely to be some significant strings attached. Or it could be that no President ever wants to be the one to establish precedent that could potentially be construed to limit executive power — they owe it to the office, right? Besides, doing that would place them among the weak Presidents, derided by history. Roosevelt (pick either one) v. Coolidge or Carter, anyone? :)

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