Mark Levin is one of the most intelligent talk radio hosts in the business. He is also one of the most philosophically inconsistent. This is especially true when it comes to interpreting the U.S. Constitution. It is even truer when Levin criticizes Ron Paul.
Last week, Levin told The Daily Caller’s Jamie Weinstein that if Paul won the GOP nomination and faced President Obama in November’s general election, he “would have to write somebody in because Ron Paul’s foreign policy is so antithetical to traditional conservative foreign policy.” He added: “I have other problems with [Paul]. I don’t think his interpretation of the Constitution is always accurate …”
Being within the Republican mainstream on foreign policy is not the same thing as being a constitutionalist. Ron Paul’s foreign policy position is that of the Founders — not necessarily the Republican one, or the Democrat one, but the constitutional one. There was a time when the constitutional position on anything was also considered the conservative position.
Levin’s willingness to circumvent the Constitution when it doesn’t jibe with his foreign policy views was highlighted well last year when the talk host defended President Obama’s “right” to send troops to Libya without consulting Congress.
When Obama decided to intervene militarily in Libya, some Capitol Hill leaders in both parties decided to question whether the president had the authority to do so. Ron Paul was one of them. Not surprisingly, when George W. Bush was president, Obama was one of them too. In 2007, then-Senator Obama said, “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.”
The Constitution clearly states that only Congress can declare war. The notion that the commander in chief, a title designated to the president by the Constitution, can command military action freely without any checks on his power not only negates the letter of our nation’s founding charter but betrays the very nature of American government. In fact, the Founders thought it particularly dangerous to give the president such power, a point James Madison reiterated in a letter to Thomas Jefferson in 1798: “The constitution supposes, what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the legislature.”
When Obama took military action in Libya, Levin let everyone know he disagreed with Madison. When members of Congress — many of them conservative Republicans (Representatives Ron Paul, Jeff Flake and Michele Bachmann, Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Jim DeMint) — began to question the president’s authority to wage war without their consent in the wake of the Libya bombings, Levin said on his radio program: “I don’t believe in politicizing the Constitution. I believe the Constitution is the rock of this society. So all this talk about the attacks on Libya are unconstitutional because we don’t have a declaration of war, that’s ridiculous. That’s absolutely ridiculous.”