Mykhaylo Palinchak /

The White House has asked Congress to pass a deliberately vague authorization for the war against the Islamic State that has been in progress for six months. Congress seems disinclined to say yes.

The measure would limit the authorization to three years and restrict the use of ground troops. Republicans, it seems, feel the president has been too soft and want a bloodier conflict. Democrats, it seems, prefer not to have a war. The president, it seems, doesn’t know the limit of his power.

President Obama, despite teaching the Constitution in a past life, has maintained that he has the authority to combat the Islamic State, although, technically speaking, only Congress can declare war. This authorization, then, is the president’s attempt to legitimize the war he already claims is legitimate.

As if that weren’t enough, the White House admits the language of the legislation lacks specificity. That’s deliberate, aides tell The Hill, so as not to box in the chief executive:

White House aides said Wednesday that language was intentionally ambiguous, so as not to place “overly burdensome constraints” on the president.

It’s likely the phrasing is also intended to help the White House win bipartisan support for the initiative, though the early signs Wednesday were that Obama faced a significant challenge.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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