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Congressional Republicans: Hail Ceaser!

9:22 AM, Sep 2, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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One of American conservatism's leading thinkers, James Ceaser of the University of Virginia, weighs in on "To authorize or not to authorize:" 

Republicans should support some version of the authorization of force resolution. They should do so even if they think that the President’s policy will prove ineffective, do no good, waste money, or entail unforeseen risks; they should do so even if they think he has gotten the nation into this situation by blunders, fecklessness, arrogance, or naiveté; and they should so even if, and especially, if they have no confidence in his judgment. The simple fact is that the nation and our allies will be at further risk if the world sees a presidency that is weakened and that has no credibility to act. Partisans may be tempted to see such a result as condign punishment for the President’s misjudgments; they may feel that he deserves to pay the price for his hypocrisy and cheap and demagogic attacks on his predecessor. But at the end of the day, Republicans need to rise above such temptations; the stakes are too high. The weaker the president’s credibility on the world scene, the more the need to swallow and do what will not weaken it further. President Obama is the only president we have. That remains the overriding fact.

And there is the important matter of the future–a future that may one day have a Republican in the presidency. The precedent of setting too low a threshold for blocking presidential initiative in foreign affairs is unwise. Of course Congress has the right, even the obligation, to stop action that member of the legislature believe would be disastrous. But short of that, it is wiser to maintain a good deal of discretion in the presidency. In the case at hand, all of the hyperbole about war aside, the real objection is that the President’s policy will prove to be ineffective or humiliating, not disastrous. That is not sufficient reason to weaken the discretion of the president or open the door next time to more gratuitous partisanship by the Democrats....

Republican who vote for an authorization of force resolution do not have to endorse the wisdom of the President’s policy. They can make clear their doubts and state their objections. They can make known that they are supporting the presidency and presidential credibility, not necessarily the wisdom of the policy. They can say that they are acting in a constitutional spirit, exercising the kind of judgment that is appropriate to the legislature in foreign policy, and no more. They can sign on to the president’s discretion to act without signing on to his actions.

Read the whole thing here.

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