They were against it before they were for it. That’s usually how it works in politics. You’ve got to say what’s necessary in order to get elected. And once you’re there in office, do whatever you want. By then, you would have thought of plenty of excuses and explanations as to why it’s “different” now compared to when you held the opposite opinion. Obama was opposed at one time to raising the debt ceiling, because it was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.” Of course, now he’s vehemently in favor of it.
So, here was the question put before the presidential candidates a long time ago in 2008:
“In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)”
Here was Obama’s response:
“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action. As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J. Res. 23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.”
And here was Biden’s response:
“…It is precisely because the consequences of war – intended or otherwise – can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the President, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens. They reasoned that requiring the President to come to Congress first would slow things down and allow for more careful decision making before sending Americans to fight and die – and ensure broader public support. The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right. Thus, the President has no authority to use force in Iran unless Iran attacks the United States, or there is an imminent threat of such an attack. The Constitution is clear: except in response to an attack or the imminent threat of attack, only Congress may authorize war and the use of force.”
Right now, the Obama administration is devising a military strike on Syria under far less dire circumstances than those surrounding Iran (although I never bought into the hysteria around Iran). They’re saying it’ll be over with in no time. They’re saying that since they know that Assad has used chemical weapons on his own people, that constitutes a national security threat that warrants direct military intervention, and they don’t need any Congressional authorization or declaration of war.
But isn’t that exactly what they spoke out against just 5 years ago? I guess it’s OK for them to do it, just not people of other political parties.