11.5.07

Doherty's declaratory duty

Earlier this week, I expressed my support for Anne Estabrook, should she launch her campaign for US Senate in 2012, thereby spending the next 5 years in a statewide party building effort. Fat chance.

As I mentioned at that time, however, the 2008 race to oust Frank Lautenberg would be better suited to a previously-elected Republican incumbent, and the name that has sprung forth is Assemblyman Michael Doherty, a noted conservative leader from Warren County.

Potential US Senate Candidate, Assemblyman Michael DohertyPoliticsNJ reported today that Doherty's campaign has attracted 2 big names to lead his exploratory committee - Congressman Scott Garrett and State Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance, a nice balance of the various dispositions of Garden State Republicans. Doherty's wisdom in attracting these two individuals, each of which holds considerable clout with segments of the GOP base, indicates to me a refreshing display of keen political instincts.

But for me, the most promising aspect of Doherty's fledgling candidacy was revealed by his remarks on the Iraq War (that pesky little issue for which his potential opponent, Ms. Estabrook, had "no comment"). PoliticsNJ summarized an interview with Doherty by saying:
"The West Point grad wants more people to listen to his foreign policy message: that the Iraq War was a mistake - though he said he does not support a timetable for withdrawal - and that he would never commit US Forces to fight abroad without a formal declaration of war."
Doherty himself was directly quoted in the article on this point:
"If we cannot get a declaration of war, I will not support putting troops into combat ever. That is my message that I'm going to run on."
What an absolute delight to read! (continued...)Doherty's position puts him in good company with those Republican members of the House and Senate who have resisted the perpetual bellicosity of the think-tank heroes in Washington and reverted to fulfilling their constitutional duties, outlined rather bluntly in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11:
"Congress shall have the power ... to declare war..."
Among those who have championed the view expressed by Doherty are Presidential candidate Ron Paul, plus his House colleagues Congressmen Jimmy Duncan from Tennessee, Walter Jones of North Carolina, and Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland, as well as Senator Chuck Hagel (like Doherty - Paul, Jones, Gilchrest and Hagel are all veterans), not to mention giants of the conservative movement like Pat Buchanan.

In the first Republican Presidential Debate, Ron Paul tackled this issue directly:

"I'm suggesting very strongly that we should have a foreign policy of non-intervention, the traditional American foreign policy and the Republican foreign policy...

I tried very hard to solve this problem before we went to war by saying, 'Declare war if you want to go to war. Go to war, fight it and win it, but don't get into it for political reasons or to enforce U.N. resolutions or pretend the Iraqis were a national threat to us.'"

Chuck Hagel, who will be a direct colleague of Doherty's if victorious, has been one of the leading proponents of a war declaration:

"Our Founding Fathers wanted the declaration of war to concentrate the minds. Returning to the Constitution’s text and making it work through legislation requiring joint deliberate action may be the only way to give the decision to make war the care it deserves.

The American people should demand that the President request a Declaration of War and the Congress formally declare war, if and when the President believes that committing American troops is in the vital national security interests of this country. This would make the President and Congress, together, accountable for their actions—just as the Founders of our country intended."

Jimmy Duncan, who also had the courage and foresight to have voted against the Iraq War from the start, wrote in the March 2007 issue of Chronicles:

"Every year since we voted to go to war in 2002, I have said in speeches on the House floor that there is nothing conservative about the war in Iraq and that it goes against every traditional conservative position...

Eighty percent of House Republicans voted against the bombings in the former Yugoslavia under President Clinton. I am convinced that at least the same percentage would have opposed the war in Iraq if it had been started by a Democratic president. I remember as a teenager reading a pamphlet from the Republican National Committee saying that Democrats start wars and Republicans end them. Perpetual war for perpetual peace is not a traditional Republican or traditional conservative position."

Walter Jones, for his part, voted for the Iraq War in 2002, but has learned from his mistake and has put forth a resolution that would require the President to earn new approval from Congress before taking any military action against Iran:
"Absent a national emergency created by attack by Iran, or a demonstrably imminent attack by Iran, upon the United States, its territories, possessions or its armed forces, the president shall consult with Congress, and receive specific authorization pursuant to law from Congress, prior to initiating any use of force on Iran...No provision of law enacted before the date of the enactment of this joint resolution shall be construed to authorize the use of military force by the United States against Iran."
Wayne Gilchrest, who along with Jones, voted to override the President's recent veto, says:
"We [in Congress] hold the purse, so for anybody to suggest that we don't have a constitutional right to influence the executive branch is absurd—really absurd. We've been on the sidelines for four years just watching this policy unfold. It is our right and responsibility to have an impact on this policy. Respect for other members of the government doesn't seem to be apparent to the president."
Pat Buchanan has himself spoken out about this issue countless times:

"Few today trust 'intelligence reports,' War Party propagandists or the word of exiles anxious to have us fight their wars. Congress should thus hold hearings on how close Tehran is to a nuclear weapon and whether this represents an intolerable threat, justifying a preventive war that would mean a Middle East cataclysm and a worldwide depression. Then it should vote to declare war, or to deny Bush the power to go to war.

The 'Bush Doctrine' notwithstanding, if Congress has not put the 'military option on the table,' neither George Bush nor John McCain can put it there. That is the Constitution still, is it not?"

So Doherty is in good company if he follows the lead of these independent-minded patriots. He should not be shy to challenge Republicans about their ongoing support for unnecessary wars overseas that weaken the United States. New Jersey residents are sick and tired of reading about carnage in the paper everyday, and they will support a statesman who thinks for himself and offers thoughtful solutions based not only upon his personal military experience, but upon his commitment to uphold the Constitution of the United States, America's own national interests, and the security of its own borders.

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