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Clinton Proposes Vote to Reverse Authorizing War

It's about time. From the Times:

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton proposed Thursday that Congress repeal the authority it gave President Bush in 2002 to invade Iraq, injecting presidential politics into the Congressional debate over financing the war. Mrs. Clinton’s proposal brings her full circle on Iraq — she supported the war measure five years ago — and it sharpens her own political positioning at a time when Democrats are vying to confront the White House. “It is time to reverse the failed policies of President Bush and to end this war as soon as possible,” Mrs. Clinton said as she joined Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, in calling for a vote to end the authority as of Oct. 11, the fifth anniversary of the original vote.

I love Robert Byrd. (It wasn't always the case: as a rookie reporter in West Virginia I used to cover him and interview him frequently; back then he seemed to me little more than a pork farmer on West Virginia's behalf, getting his name plastered all over public roads and buildings and reveling in the glow. But in the scheme of things, what Robert Byrd has done for the preservation of what's left of the balance of powers between the executive and Congress is incalculable; and what he's done since the war began, as one of the only consistent opposition forces in Congress, is equally incalculable.)

Even if Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Byrd succeed in their effort, it is not clear whether President Bush would have to withdraw troops, or if he could resist by claiming that Congress cannot withdraw its earlier authorization but instead has to deny money for the war to achieve that result. The question could prompt a constitutional debate over war powers that only the federal courts could resolve. Mostly, Mrs. Clinton appeared to be trying to claim a new leadership position among the Democratic presidential candidates against the war in Iraq. She supported the war early on, but she has turned into a staunch critic of the administration’s performance on Iraq. She has been saying that she granted Mr. Bush the authority to go to war based on intelligence reports at the time, but that the reports have since proved wrong. Now, her advisers say, a vote to withdraw authorization would make plain to antiwar and liberal Democrats that she was repudiating her 2002 vote. The hope among her aides was that demands by antiwar voters for her to apologize for her vote would be rendered moot.

Call it politics and positioning and triangulating and opportunism all you want. Maybe it is. It's also a lot more: It's what Congress should have done in 2004. It must be done. More later.

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