Whining Statement

By Benjamin Wittes
Friday, January 7, 2011, 6:57 PM

Congressional Republicans are quaking now. The President today expressed his "strong objection" to two provisions of the defense authorization bill and has threatened to "work with the Congress to seek [their] repeal." He "will seek to mitigate their effects, and will oppose any attempt to extend or expand them in the future." Ooooooh. That'll show 'em.

Did he say they were unconstitutional? Uh, no.

Did he interpret them out of existence? Uh, no.

Did he say he would defy them? Uh, no.

Did he veto the underlying bill? Uh, no.

Did he promise to veto similar legislation in the future? Uh, no.

So what did the much-hyped signing statement do? Basically nothing. It reiterated his opposition to provisions everyone knows he opposes and made crystal clear that he will submit to Congress's efforts to tie his hands.

I'm not sure what Obama's people thought he was doing here, but this is a show of extraordinary weakness, in my opinion. And I suspect it guarantees that he will be saddled with similar provisions for the foreseeable future.