Bipartisan Rationality or Shared Alarm?



Much has been written about “fake news,” about the political ramifications of charging that something is “fake news,” and about the broader undermining of the public confidence in the credibility of the news media.

Moreover, in the seemingly endless discussion of certain news stories and with the proliferation of social media, it often seems as if almost nothing goes unnoticed and almost nothing is left unsaid.

But it is important to recognize that much of the meaning of some things is still to be found in the items published “at the bottom of the page” or “at the back of the paper” and “between the lines” of an article.

Here are the opening paragraphs of an item published by The Hill that has gotten relatively little broader attention in the consternation over Trump’s tweets and the Senate Republicans’ version of healthcare reform:

No one was more surprised than Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) on Thursday when her language revoking the administration’s war authority was unexpectedly backed by Republicans and added to a must-pass defense spending bill.

“Whoa,” Lee wrote on Twitter following a voice vote that pushed through her amendment to sunset the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

Lee’s measure, which prompted applause when it was adopted in the House Appropriations defense bill, would revoke the AUMF eight months after the passing of the defense act, forcing Congress to vote on a new law in the interim.

The article, written by Ellen Mitchell, cites a number of reasons for the unexpected bipartisan support for Lee’s amendment, including the length of time that the post-9/11 war authority has been in place, the dramatic changes in the political and military realities since the war authority was passed, and the subsequent expansion of U.S. military operations into a number of southwest Asian and African nations. Illustratively, some members of Congress have noted that many of those now serving in the armed services were in grade school or even in pre-school when the war authority currently in force was passed, and those lawmakers have argued that a thoughtful and perhaps vigorous debate on the war authority’s temporal and geographic reach should be welcomed by everyone.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, however, some GOP lawmakers with a more Neoliberal bent on foreign policy issues have indicated a desire to eliminate Lee’s language, arguing that it will potentially damage the national defense by limiting our military responsiveness or by even paralyzing our military if the Congress is unable to reach a consensus before the date at which the war authority will lapse.

Curiously, although President Trump pledged on the campaign trail to reduce the number of military conflicts in which the nation is engaged, no one is quoted in the article as justifying support for Lee’s language for that reason—as a gesture of support for the President.

Indeed, as the President has exhibited a very consistent unconventionality, unpredictability, and volatility, especially on foreign policy issues, as well as a clear enthusiasm for flexing American military muscle, the most obvious rationale for revoking the open-ended war authority has also gone unstated.


Mitchell’s complete article is available at:


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