Or… Chafee’ing at the Bit
Last week, former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination to the Presidency. I think most of us would predictably yawn. Chafee intends to press Hillary Clinton on her foreign policy record which I think is all good and well seeing as how Clinton has functioned as the war-mongering foreign policy hawk that I had hoped her former-rival-turned-boss, President Obama, would not become. He did. Very disappointingly. Clinton had a chance to be a steadying hand as Secretary of State but she fell right in lock-step with El Presidente.
Chafee has almost no chance whatsoever in preventing Clinton from winning the Democratic nomination. Barack Obama had a magnetic presence that Chafee does not; Clinton will not be denied again and definitely not by an old white boy. Given current Republican alternatives, I have a hard time picturing myself voting for the eventual Republican nominee.
So why should we care about Chafee’s predictably doomed campaign. Because predictably, Congress is full of lily-livered jagoffs who care more about being able to complain about the occupant of the White House than actually fulfilling their constitutional duties. Witness:
In 2011, President Obama announced that he could go to war against Libya without congressional approval. Congress hemmed and hawed, but in the end was unable to agree to do anything about it. Two years later members of Congress were vocal about Obama’s lack of action against Syria when it was revealed that the Assad regime had been using chemical weapons. Obama eventually responded and asked Congress for approval to take military action. Congress did nothing. Now we have yet another war, this time against ISIS, and Obama asked for congressional approval months ago. Result: nothing. Members of Congress would rather be free to lambaste Obama on the campaign trail than to actually commit themselves to a strategy. [Kevin Drum: Yet Again, Congress Is Too Scared to Assert Its Warmaking Powers]
I fear for a world with a Clinton running foreign policy unchecked. Just because she may be a better alternative to whatever mouth-breather emerges from the Republican fray does not mean she should get a free pass on her egregiously bad foreign policy. Writes Daniel Larison:
While the Iraq war offers the most obvious and significant contrast between the two, Chafee would do well to challenge Clinton on the entirety of her foreign policy record in order to show that her misjudgment on Iraq was part of a pattern of taking reliably hawkish, interventionist positions on virtually every major issue. He should force her to defend the disastrous Libyan war, and he should press her on her support for sending weapons into Syria. It should give Democratic voters pause that Clinton consistently and predictably sides with hawks in foreign policy debates, and the more challengers Clinton has to point this out to them the better-informed primary voters will be.
Clinton needs to have her feet held to the fire for her record as Secretary of State. I did not register as a Democrat to elect a Blue Dog version of former-President George W. Bush.