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The childish Tu Quoque fallacies used to defend Obama

By Scott Tibbs, April 9, 2011

While some defenders of President Obama's military adventure in Libya make policy-based arguments about why this needed to be done, the arguments of others can basically be summarized as: Waaah! Waaah! Bush did it too! Bush did it too! Waaah!

To this I say: Grow up.

This is what is wrong with politics today, folks. We cannot even have a legitimate discussion about the philosophical and practical merits of public policy because people are too busy pointing fingers at the other side as a means of justifying what they are doing. It is a classic Tu Quoque logical fallacy. And let's not fool ourselves: Republicans are every bit as prone to this childish behavior as Democrats.

Barack Obama either has the authority to do this under the Constitution or he does not. The military strikes on Libya are either a good idea or they are not. What President Bush did or not do is completely irrelevant. George W. Bush is not President anymore and has not been President for more than two years. It is long past time for the more childish elements of Obama's base to stop whining about Bush and start defending Obama based on the merits of his policy.

The fact of the matter is that Obama flip-flopped on this matter. He said in 2007 that "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." Whatever else the Libyan regime might be guilty of, there was no attack on the United States and there was no imminent threat of an attack. Obama abandoned his stated principles, plain and simple. Arguments that Bush flip-flopped on this issue or that are worth less that a pile of horse manure.

While Obama was right in 2007, his statement creates a potentially large loophole giving the President much greater power to initiate military conflict than Obama probably intended. The problem is that using "imminent threat" as a standard is that "imminent threat" can be very broadly defined.

After all, the regime in Iran is well-known for alliance with terrorists. American troops in South Korea live under the threat that that the North could use nuclear weapons against them. The Soviets had the capacity to wipe the United States off the map during the Cold War - and Russia still does.

We need to have an adult discussion about American military adventurism and what powers the President has to order our troops into combat. Childishly pointing fingers at each other accomplishes nothing.