Who's Backing Obama on Libya?


The president is taking criticism from all angles on his decision to participate in the international Libyan bombing effort needed to establish a no-fly zone.

Members of his own party say he didn't consult closely enough with Congress before authorizing the strikes. Droves of liberal democratic lawmakers are denouncing him for involving the U.S. military at all.

Republicans, too, are raising questions. House Speaker John Boehner penned a letter to Obama noting that "it is regrettable that no opportunity was afforded to consult with Congressional leaders." Some of Obama's potential GOP rivals in the 2012 presidential election have taken the opportunity to blast him.

With Congress out of session, reports of criticism are dominating the discussion, and some of the comments made by Obama's supporters have been scattered through local media.

So, amidst all this criticism, who's got the president's back? Here is a small, incomplete list of lawmakers who are praising Obama without the heavy qualifications that have accompanied other statements of partial support:

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) released a written statement yesterday outlining support for the no-fly zone and international partnership, noting that "U.S. participation is strengthened by the President's continued consultation with Congress."
  • Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) held a conference call with reporters, along with two Democratic Senate colleagues yesterday, to speak out in support of the president. "It is reminiscent of George Herbert Walker's effort before our involvement in Kuwait where he lined up support across the board and through the United Nations before any military action was commenced," Durbin said, according to a transcript.
  • Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) participated in Wednesday's conference call, too. Unlike his House counterpart Smith, Levin offered the president his full backing. "He has put the ducks in a row before he decided that the United States should take the lead for a short period of time to do what only we could do," Levin said, according to a transcript.
  • Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), another Armed Services Committee Democrat, also participated in the call yesterday. "I think the president moved very thoughtfully and very deliberately to assemble a multinational coalition.  Had he not done so, a unilateral action from the United States would have left us with a significant military burden and a significant financial burden," Reed said, according to a transcript.
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) offered full support for the strikes at a news conference in San Francisco: "This isn't America versus Libya," Boxer said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "This is an extraordinary achievement by the president and our secretary of state to get the world to come together" in a humanitarian crisis.
  • Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) issued a statement of support. "The current government of Libya has lost all legitimacy. Left unchecked, Gaddafi will commit unspeakable brutalities against his own people. We will need to continuously monitor Gaddafi's responses to the pressure brought by the international coalition and adjust the strategy accordingly," Markey said.
  • Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) praised the mission and called for congressional unity. From Nola.com: "'We must continue our diplomatic efforts with the Arab League and our NATO allies to ensure the enforcement of this resolution,' Landrieu said. 'We must also unite across parties and chambers to ensure the administration has the support it needs to effectively end Gadhafi's tyranny and persecution.'"
  • Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) praised "President Obama for working closely with our international allies and the U.N. to respond to a potential grave humanitarian threat in Libya," Nola.com reports.
  • Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) offered support while touring a children's hospital in Omaha yesterday. "I support the fact that the U.S. doesn't have to be in the lead to do this," Nelson said, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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