How Obama’s military action in Libya is splitting some of his support among Democrats was on display this morning, when Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Jerry Nadler were fielding questions outside City Hall.
“Well, obviously the president has made a limited engagement in Libya because of the humanitarian crisis,” said Gillibrand, who noted the military action also had approval from the U.N., NATO allies and the Arab League. “His mission is to protect the innocent Libyan lives he can by enforcing a no-fly zone,” she said.
Gillibrand did not definitely express support for what the president was doing, but merely reiterated what he has said publicly. She hinted at areas of concern, repeatedly referring to “limited” military engagement.
Rep. Nadler was more expansive in his remarks. He reiterated his skepticism about the president’s stated goals, and complained about the lack of congressional approval for the action.
“I have not heard, have not seen the evidence that justifies our involvement in Libya so far,” he said. “We are supposedly in Libya to prevent massacres. Well, maybe. I have not seen any evidence that there were going to be any massacres.”
He said there was a civil war in that country, “but we don’t involve ourselves in every civil war.”
Nadler went on to say, “if there was a real necessity” for this action, “Congress should have been called back into session immediately.” “But,” he added, “I don’t think it is right for the executive to have the untrammeled authority to start a war.”
Before there were any follow-up questions following Nadler’s remarks, Mayor Bloomberg announced the two lawmakers had other places to be. (All three were on hand to announce federal legislation to allow New York City and other local governments more authority in setting fuel standards for their taxis.)
President Obama is expected to discuss Libya during a televised speech tonight.