John Kerry Grilled By Rand Paul Over Presidential Power In Constitution

Overall the Senate confirmation hearings on Senator John Kerry (D-MA) for the position of Secretary of State went smooth, except for a brief, yet ironic, outburst from a anti-war protestor. However, there was at least one person listening who didn’t give Kerry a pass. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) provided several tense moments as he grilled Kerry for his past support of the past unauthorized attacks by America, his views on what the Constitution allows for military policy and his support for unilateral interventions by America.

Paul began by stating that he agrees with the Barack Obama of 2007 who said that the Constitution does not give unilateral power to the President to authorize military attacks. He then asked Kerry, Do you agree with candidate Barack Obama or do you agree with President Obama who took us to war in Libya without congressional authority, unilaterally?”

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Kerry did say that he supported the War Powers Act of 1973, which was a federal law intended to check the power of the president to authorize military attacks. However, he then went on to state that, “there are occasions which I have supported where a President of the United States has to make a decision immediately and implement that decision, execute on it immediately.”

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He then recounted his support for Ronald Reagan’s military actions in Grenada, George H. W. Bush’s sending troops into Panama and even Bill Clinton’s military intervention of Bosnia and Kosovo during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He claimed that he believed that Obama’s intervention into the civil war in Libya was “in that tradition.”

Paul then made the point that I have often made and that is new laws cannot and should not undermine the Constitution, but they are written everyday. He said, “I would argue that the Constitution has no exceptions for when you are having a tough time or people disagree with you that you just go ahead and do it.”

The Kentucky Senator then recalled a younger Kerry, saying, “After Vietnam, you were quite critical of the bombing in Cambodia, because I think you felt it wasn’t authorized by Congress. Has your opinion changed about the bombing in Cambodia?”

As soon as Kerry expressed the fact that he still has negative feelings about both Cambodia and the Vietnam Way, Paul asked, “Is Cambodia different than Libya?”

“It is because it was an extension of the war that was being prosecuted without the involvement of Congress after a number of years,” Kerry answered. “That’s very different.”

“Different length of time, but similar circumstances — a bombing campaign unauthorized by Congress,” Paul responded. “See, the Constitution doesn’t give this kind of latitude to sometimes go to war and to sometimes not go to war.”

While Senator Paul pointed to the 2007 candidate Barack Obama and the Constitution stating that it doesn’t allow for such things as Kerry was affirming, Kerry, like most liberals would have none of it and sought to equivocate on the Constitution. “Well look, I respect that. Look, you can be absolutist and apply it to every circumstance. The problem is, it just doesn’t work in some instances when 10,000 people are to be wiped out by a brutal dictator and need to make a quick judgment about engagement, you can’t rely on a Congress that has proven itself unwilling to move after weeks and months.”

At this point, personally I wanted to scream, “Yeah, how about years, as in the Senate you are a part of that hasn’t passed a budget in 4 of them!” Additionally, let me say that you are either an absolutist when it comes to the law or you are simply lawless. It is one or the other and since the Constitution is the law of the land, this answer from Senator Kerry should be alone enough for him not to be confirmed for the position of Secretary of State. That he is even being considered for the position should anger every American, but especially those, including Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who fought in Vietnam and who were held there and tortured under the Viet Cong.

Paul went on to ask Kerry if he though it was a “great” idea to send weapons to foreign leaders like Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. He pointed out that Morsi had called Zionists and Israelis being “blood suckers” and “descendants of apes and pigs.” He then asked Kerry if he thought it wise to continue sending F-16s to such a leader.

“They are degrading comments and unacceptable by anybody’s standard and I think they have to be appropriately apologized for,” Kerry said, as Paul interrupted to corrected him to make a point that the reality is that leaders like Morsi are “not going to change their behavior.”

Kerry then went on to basically contradict his first statement which is that they should be apologized for and that they were unacceptable. He said that Morsi has “clarified those comments.” He then told Paul that “this is always the complication in dealings in the international sector: not everything lends itself to a simple clarity, black, white, this, that, every time.”

“I know things aren’t black and white,” Paul attempted to interject.

Kerry then appealed to what Egypt has done. ““[The Egyptians] have had an election. They had a constitutional promise. … The fact that sometimes other countries elect somebody that you don’t completely agree with doesn’t give us permission to walk away from their election,” he said.

Paul responded that “this has been our problem with foreign policy for decades.” He left no party without scathing as he spoke about Democrats and Republicans who have been engaged in the funding of Osama bin Laden during the war in Afghanistan with the former Soviet Union, funding the Afghan mujahideen, along with other “radical jihadists.” In doing so it was playing on the assumption that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, but the results end up being that the very support given to these people end up coming back to threaten America, her allies, and her interests.

Allahpundit over at Hot Air had only one criticism of Paul and I would say it would be mine as well. He writes:

My one criticism of Paul here is his failure to press Kerry on his proferred excuse, that Obama had no time to ask Congress for action because Qadaffi was about to put thousands of Libyan rebels in Benghazi to the sword. Nonsense. Go look at the timeline leading up to the west’s military intervention. Protests against Qadaffi broke out in mid-February; by February 21, Libyan diplomats were asking the UN for a no-fly zone. A day later Hillary was issuing public statements denouncing Qaddafi and by March 1 the Senate had passed a non-binding resolution — unanimously — encouraging the UN to impose that no-fly zone. It wasn’t until March 15, however, that NFZ was finally approved and not until March 19 that France, backed by the U.S., began an air campaign over the country. Obama had nearly an entire month in which he could have asked for congressional approval but Kerry wants you to believe that his decision was made under some sort of emergency conditions, a la an invasion or nuclear attack, where the president had no choice logistically but to act on his own.

In the end, the vast majority of Senators are going to confirm him because they don’t want to be seen as “mean-spirited” as if that mattered. That is the view of cowards and fools. Again, it should outrage every man who went to Vietnam and fought and every family who lost a young man in that war to know that John Kerry will be the United States Secretary of State. Absolutely disgraceful.

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