John McCain Lies About War and American History
C-SPAN is re-airing the 1987 debate on the War Powers Act resolution, as it related to the hostilities in the Persian Gulf with Iran. This was part of the Iran-Iraq Tanker War, the minelaying of which was also threatening Kuwaiti tankers. America put the Kuwaiti tankers under the U.S. flag. An Iranian missile reportedly hit a U.S. Naval vessel, and that reprisal, along with a later reprisals, involved destroying and capturing Iran's tiny naval vessels and attacking their oil platforms, also used by the Iranian military. Later a U.S. Naval vessel shot down an Iranian passenger plane.
First, let me give credit where it is due. Senators Dale Bumpers (D-AR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Lowell Weicker (R-CT) and even Dan Quayle (R-IN) were, to my ears, reasonable, even if I didn't agree with their positions. Especially good was Senator Weicker, and, impassioned, was Senator Bumpers.
This must first be contrasted with Senator John Warner (R-VA) (still serving) who appeared as nothing so much as a tool of the Armed Forces, and/or President Reagan. An abyssmal performance (especially in his colloquy with Senator Weicker). Also see his repeated use of the phrase "byzantine paths" to describe a straight forward piece of legislation.
Another awful performance was put in by Senator Robert Dole (R-KS), then Minority Leader. He was foisting off his responsibilities on people outside Congress, and was saying that the Constitution doesn't address terrorism. It does, in fact, quite clearly, when it gives Congress the power "to define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas." The Iranian laying of mines in the Persian Gulf could easily be seen as a felony of the high seas, and therefore Congress alone had the power to punish the Iranians, not President Reagan. By the way, this clause should be updated to include the skies, something the Founders had not thought about.
But the worst, the abyssmal bottom, was Senator John McCain. This ignorant fathead actually had the gall to misuse the debates on the Constitution. It wasn't his only idiotic, small-minded, war-hungry and fraudulent debating tactic, but it is the only one I'll address for now. Let us consider what the Arizona Senator said.
Senator McCain said that, during the debates of the Constitution in Philadelphia, the text was changed to say that Congress could now only declare war, and not make war, as the original draft said. This is, in fact, the case. He then cites Samuel Johnson's dictionary, which he deceptively says was in wide use (less than 6,000 copies existed before 1784, and we can easily imagine that most of those were sold in England), to say that since Congress no longer has the power to make war, they were in no position to have a say in whether or not Reagan would have a free hand in the Persian Gulf.
What do the records of those debates actually say? There are two main sources, Farrand's Record and Madison's Notes. Farrand's is quite quiet for August 17th, 1787, just listing the motions and their votes. Madison's Notes on the debate to give Congress power to make or declare war follows:
"To make war"I hope it is now clear that McCain was pushing war and was patently, and without question, misstating the record of the debates on the Constitution in order to push more war and power for the President.
Mr. PINKNEY opposed the vesting this power in the Legislature. Its proceedings were too slow. It wd. meet but once a year. The Hs. of Reps. would be too numerous for such deliberations. The Senate would be the best depositary, being more acquainted with foreign affairs, and most capable of proper resolutions. If the States are equally represented in Senate, so as to give no advantage to large States, the power will notwithstanding be safe, as the small have their all at stake in such cases as well as the large States. It would be singular for one authority to make war, and another peace.
Mr. BUTLER. The objections agst. the Legislature lie in great degree agst. the Senate. He was for vesting the power in the President, who will have all the requisite qualities, and will not make war but when the Nation will support it. Mr. MADISON and Mr. GERRY moved to insert "declare," striking out "make" war; leaving to the Executive the power to repel sudden attacks.
As many of McCain's Republican Senator colleagues have said, it would be more than a little dangerous to elect John McCain.