Foreign policy is not my forte, so don’t ask me what America should do about Syria. But I get politics, and I don’t get President Obama’s political strategy.
If you want to do something, why ask permission from a Congress that has proven itself incapable of doing anything?
Most Republicans won’t vote for anything Obama wants. They’d rather vote for Putin. After all, they’ve voted to repeal Obamacare only 57 times. They need something new to vote against.
And most Democrats will use any excuse to vote against any military action ever.
Members of Congress are making a great show of “listening” to their constituents on Syria, which most of their constituents couldn’t find on a map, let alone understand the complexities of what is going on there and what we should do.
Obama can make a strong moral case for acting unilaterally. Gas and chemical weapons cross a line. Even Hitler was afraid to use gas as a weapon of war; he used it as a weapon of mass murder.
But it doesn’t help that Americans are war-weary after a decade in the Middle East. It doesn’t help that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld & Co. misled the nation into war in Iraq. It doesn’t help that Obama made his chops in 2008 by being the only Democratic presidential candidate who opposed that war from the start. It doesn’t help that John Kerry was famously for the war before he was against it.
With Iraq, Americans mistakenly believed – and maybe still believe – that Saddam was behind 9/11. Maybe tonight Obama will have evidence that Assad was behind the Boston bombing, or shingles.
Maybe Obama is looking for an excuse not to do anything. That, Congress can do.
Or maybe – wow! – he believes this is the right thing to do. Maybe he believes Congress should be consulted before America engages in acts of war. Maybe he thinks it is best to try to persuade, even if he fails, than act on his own.
Maybe he is doing something we see so rarely we don’t recognize it: putting a principle over poll numbers. Maybe he is counting on Americans to hear the case, look at the facts and make a thoughtful judgment.