McCain And Kerry Present Libya Resolution
NEAL CONAN, host: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Jon Huntsman's ready to ride the high road, Newt takes two steps back, and Rick Perry wants to keep in touch. It's Wednesday and time for a...
Governor RICK PERRY: Tweeter...
CONAN: Edition of the Political Junkie.
President RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.
WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?
BARRY GOLDWATER: Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
LLOYD BENTSEN: Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.
President RICHARD NIXON: You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore.
SARAH PALIN: Lipstick.
President GEORGE BUSH: But I'm the decider.
(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAM)
CONAN: Every Wednesday, political junkie Ken Rudin joins us to recap the week in politics. Anthony Weiner resigned at the stroke of midnight last night, which leaves a House seat open in Queens for now. Governor Perry got the buzz at the Republican Leadership Conference, but Ron Paul won the straw poll. Newt's credit line at Tiffany's is up while his staff dwindles. Russ Feingold rips his own party over campaign finance. Polls show another Senate veteran in a neck-and-neck primary.
The president heads for a GLBT gala in New York with same-sex marriage stalled in Albany. In a few moments, we'll speak with Representative Walter Jones about the politics of Libya and the War Powers Act. Later in the program, new ways to combat Hepatitis C. But first we begin, as we always do, with political junkie Ken Rudin, who's here with us in Studio 3A. And as usual, we begin with a trivia question. Hey, Ken.
KEN RUDIN: Hi Neal, a belated Happy Father's Day to you.
CONAN: And to you.
RUDIN: Well, we never knew if it's mine or not. But anyway, in honor of Father's Day, there are more than a half-a-dozen current members of the Senate whose fathers have also served in Congress. So of those, which father served the longest?
CONAN: So if you think you know the answer to that question, in other words of the half-dozen current members....
RUDIN: Or so. It's a little more than half-dozen, like seven, I think.
CONAN: Seven. Of the seven members of the United States Senate whose fathers also served in Congress, whose father served the longest? Give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, email@example.com.
RUDIN: How do I come up with these...
CONAN: I don't know how you come up with these questions. They come by email. And of course, the winner gets a fabulous no-prize Political Junkie T-shirt. In the meantime, well, we flubbed last week, Anthony Weiner's resignation.
RUDIN: Yeah, we didn't mention that at all. We didn't mention Anthony Weiner at all last week. And yet somehow he has disappeared from all the newspapers. The only thing we want to talk about now is what happens to his district. But it's amazing that Anthony Weiner, the guy who was just, you know, the front-page story of every newspaper in the country, who said he would not resign, it was all part of a right-wing conspiracy, of course went through all this thing, and now he just disappeared.
And that scandal certainly saved the Democrats from having to constantly talk about it over and over again when they want to talk about other things, so...
CONAN: The distraction factor, and ultimately he came to the conclusion, yes, he could not stand the heat.
RUDIN: I predict he will not be the next mayor of New York City.
CONAN: I think you may have a good thing...
RUDIN: But what happens to his 9th Congressional District, which borders Brooklyn and Queens, the Democrats and Republicans both share the redistricting stuff in New York, and there will be two seats lost. So they figure one Democratic and one Republican seat.
CONAN: One downstate, one upstate.
RUDIN: Right, and what Anthony Weiner has done for the Democrats, in addition to resigning, is that he's given them an opportunity, an easy choice of which Democratic district to dismantle, and it'll more likely than not be his district.
CONAN: And we're going to get to the Republican presidential contest a little bit later in the program, but I wanted to talk about another seat that may be opening up, this time in California, where the representative from Petaluma may be about to announce her retirement.
RUDIN: Well, Lynn Woolsey, she's been in Congress since - elected in '92 so almost 20 years, and not as a surprise, too. She's expected to announce next Monday that she is retiring, not going to seek re-election in 2012. And that may be part of also a redistricting thing that's going on in California.
There is a nonpartisan commission that will draw the lines. Even though California is not gaining or losing any seats, the lines will be redrawn. So a lot of incumbents who have been used to winning very handily - David Dreier will be in a much more Democratic district, Howard Berman thrown in with another incumbent. Bob Filner of south - of San Diego is likely to run for mayor of San Diego rather than run for re-election because his lines are being changed. So a lot of upheaval in the California districts.
CONAN: Speaking of California, legislators in that state have found a way to save money. They're not getting paid.
RUDIN: Well, you know, the state law says that if they don't have a budget passed, they lose - their pay is docked every day they don't have one. And Governor Jerry Brown, to his credit because he said he doesn't want any of this finagling and this cute smoke-and-mirrors way of passing a budget as members - as the legislature has done in the past.
So the Democratic legislature did pass a budget, but Brown still said that's, you know, unacceptable. They're not getting the Republican votes they desperately need to pass it, and so he vetoed it, and now they have to come up with a new budget.
CONAN: And speaking of California, the senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, her poll numbers are down. It was thought to be an anomaly in March when they first showed to be down, but now the field poll has come out, and, well, she's not doing so well.
RUDIN: Yeah, I don't know exactly what that means because yes, she is up for re-election in 2012. But no, there is no Republican on the horizon, unless they feel that some Democrat will challenge her in the primary, or the numbers may force her to step down, retire. But right now, the numbers are making a lot of people look at that race perhaps a second time.
CONAN: And speaking of Senate races, there is going to be one in the state of Utah, but it's going to be, it looks like, in the Republican primary.
RUDIN: That's what it looks like. Orrin Hatch has been elected now - elected since 1976. He's 77 years old. There's a new poll that came out that showed him with just a three-point lead over Jason Chaffetz, a very strong conservative Tea Party kind of Republican member of Congress.
Now even though the poll shows it very close, most likely in Utah that it's going to go - the nomination will go to a state convention, and we saw what happened to Robert Bennett last year in state convention. The strong conservatives run the convention, and that could be very bad news for Orrin Hatch.
CONAN: And speaking of - well, that's not going to be an open Senate seat, I don't think, but speaking of the Senate, there is going to be an open seat in Wisconsin, and Russ Feingold at the Netroots. That's the great - the progressive element of the Democratic Party, at the Netroots rally, well, he was speaking there and took on his own party on the issue of campaign finance.
RUSS FEINGOLD: So I empathize with the desire to fight fire with fire, but Democrats should just never be in the business of taking unlimited corporate contributions. It's dancing with the devil.
CONAN: And he got quite a hand for that, this a proposal the Democrats should do what the Republicans did last time and get those unlimited contributions by corporate sponsors for independent television campaigns.
RUDIN: Yeah, he got a hand for his speech. And matter of fact, the White House representative there, Dan Pfeiffer, was booed and hissed for his speech. Obviously the progressives are not as comfortable and happy with the Obama administration responses to many issues like gay rights, like troops abroad. So there's some unease going on in the Democratic Party.
But Russ Feingold, a possible candidate for a Senate seat in Wisconsin, now that Herb Kohl is retiring.
CONAN: And we have some people on the line who think they know the answer to this week's trivia question. Of the seven United States senators whose fathers also served in Congress, which of those fathers served the longest? 800-989-8255. Email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. And we'll start with Larry(ph), and Larry's on the line from Tucson.
CONAN: Hi, go ahead.
LARRY: My guess is Jay Rockefeller.
RUDIN: Well, Jay Rockefeller does serve in the Senate, but his father - I don't even know who his father is, probably John D. Rockefeller III. His father never served in the Senate.
LARRY: Ah, okay.
CONAN: Okay, or in the House.
RUDIN: In Congress, right.
CONAN: Thank you, Larry.
RUDIN: I didn't mean for my answer to be incongruous.
CONAN: Let's go to Jeff(ph), and Jeff's on the line from Ann Arbor.
JEFF: Yes, I think it's John Dingle Jr. and John Dingle Sr.
RUDIN: Well, that's a very good guess because John Dingle Jr., who's currently in the House, has been in the House longer than anybody in history, but he's not a member of the Senate. I'm looking for somebody who's a current member of the Senate whose father served in Congress.
JEFF: I thought it was Congress period. Thank you.
CONAN: Okay, thank you. Let's go next to - this is Ginger(ph), Ginger with us from Salt Lake.
GINGER: Oh, hello.
GINGER: The Pauls: Ron Paul and Rand Paul.
RUDIN: That's a good guess. Of course Ron Paul was first elected to Congress in '76. Then he gave it up in '84 when he ran for the Senate, came back in '96. He's been in Congress 14 years, Ron Paul has. That is not the correct answer, though.
CONAN: And his son Rand Paul is, of course, a newly elected member.
RUDIN: And Rand Paul from Kentucky, right.
CONAN: But thanks very much, Ginger. Let's go next to - this is Tom(ph), and Tom's on the line from Los Angeles.
TOM: Hey, guys, happy summer solstice.
CONAN: And happy solstice to you, too.
TOM: My guess is Mark Udall of Colorado.
RUDIN: Mark Udall of Colorado is the correct answer.
CONAN: Ding, ding, ding.
RUDIN: His father, the late Mo Udall, one of the Three Stooges along with Larry and Curly, Mo Udall...
CONAN: Don't forget Shemp.
RUDIN: No, I love Shemp. Shemp was my favorite. We can talk about that on another show. Mo Udall from 1961 to 1991, 30 years in the House. By the way, second place would be Mark and David Pryor of Arkansas. David Pryor served 18 years. But Mo Udall is the correct answer.
CONAN: So congratulations, Tom, we'll put you on hold, collect your particulars, and we'll send you a political junkie no-prize T-shirt in exchange for your promise to send us a digital picture of yourself that we can post on our Wall of Shame.
TOM: Thanks, guys. Go Yankees.
CONAN: Go Yankees.
RUDIN: Oh, I like him.
CONAN: Last seen leading two-nothing in Cincinnati.
RUDIN: We now have a guest junkie person.
CONAN: Yes, indeed. In the meantime, there is - well, speaking of open House seats, there's one open in Nevada, where the current member or the previous member resigned to take a seat in the United States Senate.
RUDIN: Right, that's the Dean Heller seat, and of course he became a senator because John Ensign left for other reasons. And Mark Amodei, he is the former state Republican chairman in Nevada, he will be the Republican nominee for the seat. The likely Democratic candidate is State Treasurer Kate Marshall. Democrats are hoping to pick up that seat with a statewide official.
CONAN: And President Obama heads to New York tonight, or this week, for a GLBT gala, his position on gay marriage said to be evolving. In the meantime, though, a gay marriage bill is in the Senate, state Senate, in Albany, one vote short of passage.
RUDIN: That's exactly right. It passed the assembly overwhelmingly. That's a big Democratic majority in the New York State Assembly, but in the state Senate, which the Republicans control, it's down by one vote, a lot of maneuvering going on. But right now, they're still one vote short, and so they haven't held a vote for that yet.
CONAN: Unclear whether it's going to even reach the floor. In any case, a rare moment of amity in the United States Senate yesterday, Leon Panetta, the new secretary of Defense.
RUDIN: Yeah, it was a close vote. It was 100 to zero. I mean, they don't vote on the time of day 100 to zero or the color of the sky. But Leon Panetta, long respected by both members of Congress, both parties, Leon Panetta the next secretary of Defense, 100 to zero.
CONAN: We're talking with political junkie Ken Rudin. Up next, the politics of the War Powers Resolution and the United States mission in Libya. Of course, President Obama speaks tonight on Afghanistan to announce the schedule for the drawdown of the surge troops that he sent in 2009.
Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina will join us. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. It's Political Junkie day. Ken Rudin is here, as he is most Wednesdays. And, of course, if you want to hear more, you can hear his podcast. You can read his blog and, well, try to solve that ScuttleButton puzzle. Go to npr.org/junkie.
And we're going to get Walter Jones on the line in a moment. He's now apparently on the House floor voting. In the meantime, there's some presidential news we can catch up on, and that includes - this is the Southern Leadership Conference, which met over the weekend in New Orleans, appropriately, and...
RUDIN: Republican Leadership Conference. Right.
CONAN: Republican Leadership Conference. And among the speakers there, somebody who's considering a run for president, and that's the current governor of Texas, Rick Perry.
Gov. PERRY: That mix of arrogance and audacity that guides the Obama administration is an affront to every freedom-loving American and a threat to every private-sector job in this country.
(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)
CONAN: And Rick Perry still debating whether to get into the race or not. A lot of people say yes. A lot of people say no, but in the meantime, clearly able to rally the base.
RUDIN: Yes, and we heard earlier in the show, he's advising his people to support him by following him on Tweeter, which was a little concern. But look, you know, Rick Perry very popular with the strong conservative movement in Texas. He could hurt Michele Bachmann, other strong conservatives, should he run.
What he's deciding to do right now, whether it's too late - and my understanding is that it's certainly not too late. There's only been one major debate of any consequence. There's still at least six more debates between now and October. The question is whether he can raise the money. But, you know, he's very popular among the conservatives.
CONAN: In the meantime, talking about raising money, two of Newt Gingrich's remaining key aides departed, and there turns out to be an even bigger credit line at Tiffany's.
RUDIN: Well, the Tiffany's story, to me, is still bogus to me, but the fact is, there does seem to be an abandonment of Newt Gingrich among his staffers, among his finance people. He is not raising the kind of money he needs, and they still have to convince him whether he can - the way to win the nomination is not by just writing books and espousing ideas, but campaigning door-to-door. And the question is whether Gingrich can do that.
CONAN: And he may be limited to going to debates and making speeches, as opposed to campaigning, apparently unable to buy the list of the attendees at the last straw poll, and may not be into that. In any case, there's also - there was a straw poll at that Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, and the winner, as usual.
RUDIN: Well, yes, it's Ron Paul. He got a whopping 612 votes. Now, a year ago, Mitt Romney beat Ron Paul at the same Republican Leadership Conference convention by one vote. This time, Ron Paul was a big winner. The question is - and this is a question we always raise about Ron Paul: Can his support among libertarian-type Republicans in straw polls translate to the ballot box in the caucuses and the primaries?
In 2008, it did not do it, but this is a different Republican Party in 2012, and the question is whether Ron Paul can capitalize on it.
CONAN: Ron Paul may have won the straw poll, but Obama impersonator Reggie Brown stole the show.
REGGIE BROWN: (As Barack Obama) A few months back, the family and I took a nice, relaxing vacation in the state of my birth, Hawaii, or as the Tea Partiers still call it, Kenya.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
CONAN: Then Mr. Brown got the hook when he started to make jokes about, well, leading figures in the other party.
BROWN: (as Barack Obama) Tim Pawlenty couldn't make it here, but cut him some slack: He's having his foot surgically removed from his mouth. Oh, no. Don't worry. Luckily for him, it's covered under Obamneycare.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
BROWN: So, yeah, that along with spinal transplants.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
RUDIN: Yeah. I mean, you know, look. He could be a great stand-up comedian at a correspondents dinner, but at a Republican conference, the goal is to make fun of the opposition and not your own party, and obviously, those were big jabs at Tim Pawlenty.
CONAN: So the - he says he got pulled because he was making jokes about Republic-- they say they were offended by his racial jokes about the president and only got up to pull the mic a little bit late.
RUDIN: Well, he also said that - he said that president - Michelle Obama was excited about celebrating Black History Month in February, and Barack Obama said he would only celebrate half the month. That's supposed to be pretty funny. Even I wouldn't say jokes like that.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
CONAN: Boy, that's getting over a low bar. In any case, let's go to the new presidential candidate, and that is Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, most recently ambassador to China who kicked off his presidential campaign at Liberty Island with the backdrop of the Statue of Liberty. And, well, his campaign called it New York, but in any case, he had some things to say.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
JON HUNTSMAN: We will conduct this campaign on the high road. I don't think you need to run down someone's reputation in order to run for the office of president. Of course we'll have our disagreements. That's what campaigns are all about. But I want you to know that I respect my fellow Republican candidates, and I respect the president of the United States.
CONAN: Jon Huntsman's campaign had some stumbles on its first day, including handing out passes to the press misspelling the candidate's names.
RUDIN: First name John with an H, right.
CONAN: With an H. But I think everybody's campaign has a few moments that they will laugh about later, of course, when they're in the White House.
RUDIN: I think more important than how you spell Jon Huntsman is what Jon Huntsman was saying, and the point is, one, he wants to have a civil campaign, and he wants civility directed towards President Obama. You don't hear that from these other presidential candidates.
When Newt Gingrich announced his candidacy, he talked about Obama being a food-stamp president. I mean, there's such contempt for the president in the Republican field that, in that way, Jon Huntsman stood out. But, you know, he tried to have the backdrop of the Statute of Liberty, and that's how - where Ronald Reagan campaigned for the general election.
CONAN: In 1980.
RUDIN: In 1980. And so maybe is it Reagan-esque. But really, you know, the thing is - or is he Bruce Babbitt? I mean, the thing is he's a nice guy. The press really seems to like him. He's for civil unions. So a lot of the members of the press say, well, he's reasonable. But is a conservative Republican electorate going to vote for somebody like that? And that remains to be seen.
CONAN: And there is also a question of, even in less-partisan times, candidates who took the high road don't have an extraordinarily good history of winning the nomination.
RUDIN: No. And you can always talk to the Dick Lugers and the Orrin Hatches and the Paul Tsongases of the world and the Mo Udalls. You know, we talked about him, too. You know, nice guys, you know, good disposition, not attack-dog kind of politicians. But ultimately, when you get in the voting booth, one side or the other is angry. And at this time, the Republican Party is angry, and will they nominate somebody who's not angry?
That's a little simplistic. Right now, it looks like Huntsman, while on paper looks like a very attractive candidate, may not be the one, at least at this juncture.
CONAN: And in the meantime, the guy who's going to be running for the president of the United States in the other party, Barack Obama, he makes a pretty big speech tonight as he announces his plans to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Yes, this is military. Yes, this is foreign policy. Yes, it's strategic. It's also very political.
RUDIN: It is very political, because a lot of people are still asking, and the polls show it, that once Osama bin Laden was taken out, and once, you know, al-Qaida seems to be dismantled, what's the purpose of the troops there? So he's going to have a speech, 8 p.m. Eastern Time, and he'll talk about what he's trying to - maybe he's not going to use the words mission accomplished, because, you know, he's not allowed to say those words. We learned our lesson with that. But, basically, he's going to perhaps say that the time is right to take out troops from Afghanistan because, you know, it's slowly turning around in the coalition's favor.
CONAN: According to leaks from the White House, he's expected to announce that 5,000 will come out next month. That's keeping the promise he made when he announced that he would send them in, another 5,000 by next spring at the latest, depending on what's happening with the situation on the ground.
It's interesting, though. The president is going to be facing opposition on this largely from his own party. You had the Speaker of the House John Boehner say today he would not want to see a precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
RUDIN: Yes, but you also saw what happened, a resolution by the U.S. Conference of Mayors earlier this week that said basically we cannot have a guns-and-butter program. You know, we cannot - if we can't afford to build bridges in Baltimore and Detroit, how could we be building bridges in Afghanistan and Baghdad and things like that?
So there is a movement among people from both parties that seems to say that given the perilous economic situation at home, given the collapse, if you will, of the infrastructure at home, maybe that's where our military - I'm sorry, that's where our financial focus should be.
CONAN: There is also some interesting politicking going on. And we were trying to get Walter Jones on the line, congressman from North Carolina, Republican who's taking a big role in this next debate. He's down on the floor voting. It's live radio. He's got a job to do, and if he can get up, we'll talk to him. But...
RUDIN: His priorities are so messed up.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
CONAN: I understand that.
RUDIN: It's TALK OF THE NATION, for God's sake.
CONAN: It's the Political Junkie.
RUDIN: That's right. Come on.
CONAN: But the - there is a tension underway between different factions of the Republican Party, which John McCain addressed on ABC's "This Week." John McCain told "This Week" that, in fact, the - it was isolationism for Republicans to say that, you know, to vote against the troops, the war in Libya, this after the White House has, some say, violated the War Powers Act.
RUDIN: Well, I don't know about "some say." A lot of people say it, because first of all, the War Powers Act says if there's hostilities going on for more than 90 days, Congress is - the president is going to have to come before Congress and explain the mission. Otherwise, there's a vote for it - otherwise, there has to be a vote. And the president said, look, these are not hostilities. And, to me, I don't know, if you're in a plane and trying to kill Moammar Gadhafi by, what, you know, by drones or by whatever it is, to me, that sounds pretty hostile. And there's more and more agitation at, you know, agitated lawmakers in Washington who say, wait a second, we need a direct answer, and you're hearing it from both the left and the right, which is unusual.
CONAN: And you're hearing an odd combination. Yes, the left and the right saying we're going to vote to cut off funds because he's violated the War Powers Act. He went against the advice of his acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department, who said you've got to get authorization from Congress under this law. In the meantime, you have a centrist sort of combination, John Kerry and John McCain introducing a resolution saying let's extend the funding for the war in Libya for one year.
RUDIN: That's exactly right, and we'll see what happens after that. But, you know, what's just interesting, I mean look, John McCain, the Republicans, for the most part, have always been pro-military. We saw that with the incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, the Democrats have been against it. But as more and more and more Republicans are now saying perhaps because they're not happy with Barack Obama, perhaps because they want to oppose everything Barack Obama stands for, but more and more Republicans saying this war makes no sense. Why not go into Syria, why not go into Yemen, if we're going to do this stuff in Libya? And more and more Democrats are starting to be very queasy about this. So it's interesting to see how the roles are being reversed.
CONAN: We have a caller on the line. Carl(ph) is with us from Nashville, Tennessee.
CARL: You know, this is the argument that I like as an American. I want my executive branch having this fight with - enough of the partisan crap. I want, you know, the legislative and the executive branch and sometimes even the judicial branch to be fighting among each other, not just Democrats against Republicans. You're good. We're evil. This is the type of argument - this is why our government was made, checks and balances. And as far as Huntsman go, listen, he must have didn't get the memo from the Republican Party, is that you can't be a sensible grownup. You have to hate the Kenyan secret Muslim, slash, you know, evil socialist-communist President Barack Obama to be a Republican. You can't be a grownup.
CONAN: All right. Carl, thanks very much for the call. It's interesting he mentions the judicial branch. There is a suit being brought by some members of Congress, including our putative guest, Walter Jones, who's saying that the violation - that this is a violation of law. The judicial branch, generally, says, Congress, if you think it's a problem, you have some powers of your own to use for that and just vote to withhold funding.
RUDIN: Right. And, look, first of all, Congress is - it is Congress's role to declare war, and as everybody knows, Congress has not declared war since 1941, World War II. So in all the wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan, there's never been a vote, you know, a declaration of war. But at the same time, Walter Jones and Ron Paul and Republicans like that, they have been - in the old days, they had been the outliers. They have been - they seemed like the odd ducks, but there are more and more Republicans saying, wait a second, this makes no sense, and it seems like they're - that view is becoming more and more popular.
CONAN: And a vote to restrict funds for Afghanistan came within, what, six votes of passage in the House. So, anyway, we're talking with political junkie Ken Rudin, as we do every Wednesday. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
And this email from Tommy(ph) in Raleigh. Why, oh why, have we not seen massive anti-war protests everywhere President Obama goes? There were anti-war protests from 2002 to 2008, literally, everywhere Bush went, even his home and summer vacations.
Since President Obama ran as the anti-war candidate and has not kept his promise to end the wars and bring the troops back home, since he started a new war in Libya, oh, it's only a no fly-zone, and it's not us, it's NATO, and is launching drone strikes against Yemen, it would seem that the fervent anti-war folks would be even more outraged now than they were with Bush. Just a slight correction, he ran against the war in Iraq, and he ran saying we have to fight the war in Afghanistan. He made his policies clear as a candidate.
RUDIN: True. And he is taking - you know, he is winding down the war in Iraq, and he is taking troops out of Afghanistan, but I guarantee that if this was George W. Bush in the White House and there were no War Powers Act consultation with the Congress, the Democratic left would be out marching, and there would be strong words in the Congress.
CONAN: Let's go next to James. James with us from - I'm guessing that's Fort Lauderdale.
JAMES (Caller): Yes, Neal. Thank you so much for addressing this today. I have to tell you - and this is my question really. Where were the congressional Republicans and talking about the War Powers Act when we went to war in Iraq with faulty intelligence?
CONAN: Well, that's - if Walter Jones had been here, he would have said he made a terrible mistake in voting for that, and that he's learned from that mistake. But it's interesting on the War Powers Act, John Boehner, now the speaker of the House, voted to repeal the War Powers Act, which he's now trying to enforce.
RUDIN: But you could also make the argument then in the war in Iraq there was a vote in Congress, to Hillary Clinton and John Edwards and Joe Biden's regret having voted for it, but there still was a vote to authorize the president to go to war. That has not happened in Libya, and that's why there's so much constitutional questions coming out about the War Powers Act.
JAMES: Excellent, Mr. Rudin. Thank you for clearing that up. That's excellent. OK.
CONAN: Thanks very much for the call.
JAMES: Still don't agree but thank you.
CONAN: OK. In the meantime, this is going to be a considerable battle. As it now looks like the president is going to keep the troops - significant numbers of troops in Afghanistan until the end of 2014 should he be in office those last two years. And that's going to be a continuing tension given the, well, fiscal realities, and, well, there's still no agreement on raising the debt limit.
RUDIN: Exactly right. But there's also an election in - before 2014. There is an election in 2012, and many people who voted for President Obama in 2008 did not expect that there will be still troops on the ground in Afghanistan, let alone another war by the time of his re-election in 2012.
CONAN: And by the way, CNN is reporting that Michele Bachmann will formally announce her presidential bid next Monday. We thought she did that during the debate in New Hampshire.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
RUDIN: That's what she said she was going to, yes.
RUDIN: I think it's going to be in Waterloo, Iowa, because that's where she's from.
CONAN: Because that's where, I think, she is born, and, yes, she's going to Waterloo, a strange symbolic place to open a campaign. It's best known, of course, where campaigns ended, but in any case, Michele Bachmann is going to formally join the race, I think, as promised in Waterloo, Iowa, her birthplace, just across the state line from the district that she represents in Minnesota.
RUDIN: And when Jon Huntsman - basically, he's going to bypass Iowa, and that's a risky strategy. He's going to straight into New Hampshire where, ostensibly, more moderate Republicans do well as opposed to the - in Iowa...
CONAN: Independents can vote there, too.
RUDIN: Exactly. Where Iowa - unlike Iowa, where there's a strong social conservative element.
CONAN: Talking with people in South Carolina today, so maybe setting out for that one as well. Ken Rudin, thanks very much, as always.
RUDIN: Thank you, Neal.
CONAN: Political junkie joins us here every Wednesday on TALK OF THE NATION. Up next, new treatments for millions of Americans with hepatitis C. Doctors are calling it a game changer. We'll find out more in just a moment. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.