The libertarian and conservative split inside the GOP was exposed for all to see Wednesday as two Republican senators went at each other with a pickaxe.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) virtually accused Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) of treason when he said they were “empowering the enemy” by supporting the Dem- sponsored War Powers Resolution in the Senate that would limit President Trump’s power as Commander-in-Chief.
Paul and Lee are members of the libertarian wing of the GOP.
Graham said of them to the press, “They’re libertarians. I think they’re overreacting, quite frankly…Trust me, I’m going to let people know that at this moment in time to play this game with the War Powers Act … whether you mean to or not, you’re empowering the enemy.”
John Bolton, not quite a rabid supporter of the president on other issues, is with Trump and Graham on this.
The 1973 War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional. It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Constitution allocated foreign affairs authority between the President and Congress. The Resolution should be repealed.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 9, 2020
But Rand Paul was not buying the argument. He commented, “I think it’s sad when people have this fake sort of drape of patriotism and anybody that disagrees with them is not a patriot,” Paul told CNN. “I love my country. I have many family members that serve in the military and continue to serve. I love my country as much as the next guy.”
This a tricky one, as both sides have valid points. Graham should not have accused Paul and Lee of aiding the enemy. He should have reserved that statement for the Democrats, just as the president is doing at his Ohio rally tonight.
To hamstring a president in this kind of national security environment is a serious thing and goes past intellectual arguments on policy. It could cost lives, as Congress as a collective is not in the least qualified to run the military.
However, like it or not, the War Powers Act is the law of the land. It makes the president brief Congress 48 hours after operations commence. It also mandates a president get authorization from Congress to keep forces in the field for more than 90 days, 60 of those days in active operations and a further 30 if withdrawing. It could come into play in the Iran situation if the conflict escalates.
This Senate War Powers Resolution, non-binding as it is, could pass. If so, the Lukewarm War inside the GOP between national security hawks and libertarians will only get hotter.