House Speaker John Boehner released a video yesterday of himself and a new toy wind up monkey, a gift given to him by his staff. In the video Mr. Boehner is playing with his cute granddaughters, very cute! But as you might guess, some politicians and the media are using the timing to make a point.
The coincidental timing of the video release on the same day President Obama announced that reconnaissance military flights have begun over Syria, make the month long vacation that Congress is on a crucial national issue, as the U.S. is at this very moment must decide whether to expand our military presence in the Middle East from just Iraq, to Syria, and perhaps elsewhere. In the video Mr. Boehner sounds like he’s making a joke to his staff when he says, “this is what I do all day.” (No one should criticize The Speaker for taking time to play with his granddaughters.)
Our leaders need to postpone their vacations to help make this decision. Will we restrict our involvement to air strikes, just in Iraq, or will we send additional military to Iraq, and send them to Syria, engaged in a war with the IS terrorist army, and to begin bombing over Syria and send more troops to Iraq.
Democrats and some in the media have tried to wound Mr. Boehner politically by making fun of the toy monkey video, in which he explains why his staff gave him the gift; because he feels like when he’s working long hours, his staff winds him up and sends him back to work. I don’t believe people are saying that the Speaker playing toys with his granddaughter is a problem. But the visual plays up the issue of whether Congress should be on vacation right at this moment, and should they authorize President Obama to continue military actions in the Middle East. Mr. Boehner and all of Congress needs to go back to Washington D.C., perhaps along with the monkey and Mr. Boehner’s family. At the very least the House and Senate should be debating this issue now, not a month from now.
The stakes are high. Will IS (or ISIS) draw us into a full scale, long term military conflict and who will decide? Many have already called for a special emergency session of Congress, immediately or very soon. To complicate matters, it sounds like House and Senate members both Republican and Democrat, who’ve been asked so far don’t seem to see the need for an emergency session. Some don’t think the President doesn’t need congressional approval at all. Still other of our elected officials are calling President Obama “weak” and says he lacks a clear strategy in the Middle East. I wonder how much of a grasp on the subject that many of those same people in Congress say they don’t want or need to be involved in.
The historical issue of how to apply the Constitution to a declaration of war is complicated and there has been disagreement ongoing for over 40 years, with Presidents both Democratic and Republican at various times, acting on their own and seeking Congressional authority. Democrats have started military actions without congressional approval. President Carter in Iran and President Clinton in Kosovo. Former President George Bush was given approval to declare war on Iraq, after the U.S. began the invasion. While many people think a President should not act alone and seek House and Senate approval, which President Obama has said he wants participation from our elected represents, to me somewhat incredibly, Republican leaders in Congress have been saying Mr. Obama should not only make the decision himself, some have said that he’s weak for not already having done so.
In recent months that has been the predominant Republican stance not only in the Middle Eeast, but along our borders and dealing with immigration reform as well. At the same time, Mr. Boehner has filed a lawsuit against the President for making too many decisions on his own!!!
What if we’re about the launch into another long protracted war in the Middle East? We all must urge our elected officials in the strongest possible terms that we expect leadership in our military decisions, in deciding whether homeless illegal immigrants will be sent home or allowed to stay, whether to help the ongoing increase of states now accepting instead of illegally refusing to accept Medicaid money approved in the Affordable Care Act. Congress should return to work immediately as we decide whether to declare another war. The Monkey in the Room needs to stop playing those cymbals, and go back to work with Mr. Boehner.