Obama the Constitutional Hero

Photo Credit: National Review

Photo Credit: National Review

President Obama surprised many (including the U.S. military, apparently) with his decision to emulate his predecessor by seeking congressional authorization to attack a Baathist regime in the Middle East.

The media’s reaction, while predictable, has bordered on parody, lending weight to conservative suspicions about the press corps’ particular devotion to the current president. “Quite extraordinary: after 30 years of presidents strengthening powers of exec branch, POTUS is giving some of that power back to Congress,” NBC’s Chuck Todd gushed on Twitter.

Numerous outlets echoed this theme of Obama as restorer of the Constitution. BuzzFeed wrote of Obama’s “big Syria power giveaway.” The Hill reported that the decision to seek congressional approval “breaks from precedent” and “represented a departure from the policies of several predecessors,” while somewhat awkwardly noting that George W. Bush sought (and won, overwhelmingly) authorization for the Iraq War and the invasion of Afghanistan — as Bush’s father did before the First Gulf War.

Yahoo! News columnist Walter Shapiro praised Obama’s “history-defying decision,” saying it “may well be the most important presidential act on the Constitution and war-making powers since Harry Truman decided to sidestep Congress and not seek its backing to launch the Korean war.” He neglected to mention the recent examples undermining that fearsome trend, other than to denounce the younger Bush’s “hyperbolic . . . claims about Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.”

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