I would like to thank President Obama for taking my advice on Friday. Obviously my admonition caused the President to go for a long walk with his Chief of Staff to rethink his strategy. Here is what I said:
80% of Americans believe President Obama should receive congressional approval before using force in Syria. 80% of Americans cannot agree on anything, Mr. President. They agree on this. This is a no-fucking-brainer, Mr. President. You want a way out of that fucking corner you painted yourself into, this is it. Seek Congressional Authorization. If you don’t get it, your hands have been tied by Congress just as David Cameron’s were.
I wonder if my free form use of expletives was the thing that convinced him. Who knows. The decision has garnered editorial plaudits from across the country, like this one from the New York Times:
President Obama made the right decision to seek Congressional authorization for his announced plan to order unilateral military strikes against Syria for using chemical weapons. There has to be a vigorous and honest public debate on the use of military force, which could have huge consequences even if it is limited in scope and duration.
If he is to win Congressional support, Mr. Obama and his top aides will have to explain in greater detail why they are so confident that the kind of military strikes that administration officials have described would deter President Bashar al-Assad of Syria from gassing his people again (American officials say more than 1,400 were killed on Aug. 21) rather than provoke him to unleash even greater atrocities.
They will also have to explain how they can keep the United States from becoming mired in the Syrian civil war — something Mr. Obama, for sound reasons, has long resisted — and how military action will advance the cause of a political settlement: the only rational solution to the war.
Now, as I explained in my prior post simply entitled “Syria,” I am against intervention for precisely the reason mentioned in the last paragraph of the Times editorial. Let’s say we are lucky and we take Assad out. Then what? Which one of the myriad rebel groups, which by the way includes AL QUEDA(!!!), gets to take over? What will likely happen is that the Civil War will continue until we find out that answer, and get worse. It will likely require our further intervention. And then let’s say we are unlucky and Assad survives. What then? Does he retaliate? Does Hezbollah? Does Iran? Does Russia?
The President is asking himself all these questions too. And he probably figured that getting voted down in Congress was preferable than all other possibilities. And at the same time, he gets to have all his critics in Congress, whether Democratic or Republican, put up or shut up and take ownership of the policy all at the same time. It was one of Obama’s brilliant 11th Dimensional Chess moves.
Now, to the vote in Congress, from Roll Call:
“At some point Boehner will have to make a decision and presumably rally his troops. Whether they will follow is an open question. Already, there is tension between the House Republican and Democratic camps over who will shoulder the burden of providing the votes to avoid a historic defeat for the president. GOP aides suggested Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has strongly backed the president, will have to provide the bulk of the votes. But a Democratic leadership aide put the onus back on Boehner.”
I think the Resolution will pass the Senate easily, with more than 60 votes. I think some liberals and libertarians and whatever it is Ted Cruz is will vote against. In the House, it is a much dicier proposition. I honestly do not expect it to pass. With both parties already fighting over who has to do the Whip operation, it means that both parties already know they don’t have the votes.
Meanwhile, some polling goodness:
ALASKA–US SENATE–Hays Research Group: Sen. Mark Begich (D) 50, Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell (R) 39
Remember, the GOP must win this seat if it is to have any chance to capture the Senate.
WEST VIRGINIA–US SENATE–West Virginia Poll: U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) 45, Sec. of State Natalie Tennant (D) 40.
That West Virginia poll is a surprise. Everyone has assumed that West Virginia, with Senator Jay Rockefeller’s retirement, would be an automatic pick up for the Republicans, especially since they captured a top recruit in U.S. Rep. Shelly Moore Capito. But West Virginia is strange like that. They vote for Democrats on the federal and state level even though their electoral votes have been solidly and safely in the red column for the last four elections.