The Big Questions: Libya, Pawlenty and Health Care

Reuters
Reuters

Mark Halperin’s answers this week in TIME.

How can the U.S. military go into Libya without asking Congress to declare war?

Ever since Harry Truman bypassed Capitol Hill in 1950 and sent U.S. forces into Korea without a declaration of war, no President has sought such a formal decree to deploy American troops. Despite the clear words of the Constitution (Article I, Section 8: Congress has sole power “to declare war”), Commanders in Chief of both political parties, the current Oval Office occupant included, have briefed and consulted Congress but initiated military action alone. Sometimes, as in the two Gulf Wars, Congress has finessed its constitutional role by passing a resolution in support of a proposed military action. But no President has felt bound by the actions of the Legislative Branch.

Is Tim Pawlenty too bland to become the Republicans’ presidential nominee in 2012?

You might ask, Who is Tim Pawlenty? Such is the reaction of many people, savvy TIME readers included, and that’s a problem for the former Minnesota governor, who just announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee (accompanied by one of his curiously flashy, frenetic Internet videos). But the smart, hockey-loving conservative has a shot at winning — maybe even a good one — in part because the current field is so small and so weak.

Did Obama’s health care law have a happy first birthday?

The White House’s most cherished offspring is older but no less polarizing, and it remains the Republicans’ favorite political cudgel. America’s media circuits are overloaded with international news, so the one-year anniversary of the measure’s creation has garnered scant attention or national debate — giving Democrats little chance to celebrate (or defend) the dramatic mandate that still divides the country.

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