For post-Trump America to emerge mostly intact, which is likely but not certain, we must walk and chew gum at the same time. Support or opposition for the president’s act of war against the government of Syria shouldn’t eliminate or even defer opposition to all the other stuff that’s happening and not.
In truth, we are going to have to chew, walk, rub our stomachs and say “Mississippi” simultaneously. As in one approves striking Bashar al-Assad’s airbase but wanted congressional authorization for this (and future) acts in a war against a sovereign nation. Because it’s required by Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution. And at the same time we must remember that in 2013 President Obama actually asked Congress for such authorization before holding his fire in response to a chemical assault far larger in scale than the recent atrocity. Congress failed to even take a vote.
And while doing all those things we have to consider the irony that Trump’s unconstitutional bypass of the legislature’s war power occurred on the very day that Senate Republicans went “nuclear” to put Neil Gorsuch on SCOTUS – BECAUSE – they say he will interpret and apply the words of the Constitution literally and strictly. And emulating a Cirque du Soleil performer, while you do all that, admit (left and right alike) that when convenient or necessary, strict adherence to the constitution hasn’t seemed like a great idea.
It is not of great importance or utility to debate whether Trump’s military action was his “wag the dog” distraction from the three Russia/Trump investigations, the Devin Nunes affair, his failure to even nominate some 500 of the 550 plus people needed to fill crucial federal posts requiring Senate approval and let us count all the other self-inflicted problems this administration is confronted with.
The Tomahawk assault on the Shayrat air base may be both an intended distraction and a good response to Assad. And while pondering that, don’t forget that President Clinton’s aversion to a “wag the dog” accusation contributed to his failure to strongly respond to Al Qaeda attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on 8/7/1998 and likely left America more vulnerable to the attacks of 9/11/2001. Nobody nor the Constitution promised you a rose garden of simplicity or moral certainty.
It is important to keep debating all those things and holding the administration accountable for its myriad failures and working to replace Trump with a better executive. That can be done by operation of one of three unequivocal constitutional mechanisms designed for that very purpose, including an election.