The big news of the day is President Obama’s comments about his plans to seek approval from Congress for military intervention in Syria.
Now, for many liberals this was the last thing they wanted to hear. For Libertarians it’s just “more proof” that President Obama is no different than George W. Bush.
But for Republicans, what the heck are they going to say? In short—nothing. They can’t.
And that’s why this move is brilliant.
The President knows Syria is going to get much worse before it gets better. I’ve frequently seen the argument, “With so much bloodshed already, do we really need U.S. bombs causing more?” Well, that’s not really an accurate way to look at it. Some others may ask, “Is the loss of 1,000 lives worth saving 100,000?” It’s a rhetorical question that really has no right or wrong answer, but should definitely cause you to pause for a moment and think about the consequences of any choice we make.
Now some might say “All life is sacred, how can you value any one life over another?” And that’s true. But people are going to die in Syria regardless if we get involved or not. Over 120,000 have died in nearly 3 years of their civil war. Our involvement is meant to try and curb some of that death. Nobody is saying if we get involved that there won’t be the loss of innocent lives. It’s war; horrific decisions are made all the time. As I’ve said plenty of times, there is no such thing as a “clean war.” If we get involved it’s meant to try and expedite an end to the seemingly endless bloodshed. And yes, that means our bombs and missiles will most likely kill innocents. Like I said, it’s war. Is it better if we did nothing and simply allowed thousands to die anyway? Is an innocent death less of a tragedy because they were killed by Bashar al-Assad’s weapons?
But I still don’t know how I feel about our possible involvement. And that’s not what I see as brilliant in Obama’s plans.
What I think he did that’s absolutely genius is he’s put the burden on Congress to decide what we’ll do. He put his stamp of approval on what he feels we should do, but now he’s sent it on to Congress.
While Republicans harped on about the “tyrant” President Obama who would circumvent Congress to wage war, he laughed right in their face and endorsed military action — but only with Congressional approval.
Now what can Republicans say? If they don’t support military involvement, then don’t approve it and that’ll be the end of it. If they do, then he will.
But wait, endorsing our involvement in Syria would mean Republicans would have to support something President Obama has endorsed. Which is something they just don’t do.
However, if they choose not to endorse action in Syria, how can they continue to claim to be the party that’s “hard on terror?” Isn’t this the party that voted for Bush, McCain and Romney — all men who governed and campaigned on preventative war?
Doesn’t curbing violence in Syria qualify as preventative war?
Furthermore, don’t they try and paint President Obama as “weak on terror?” Well, he’s made a bold (and unpopular with liberals) stance on Syria to hopefully end the violence and take out a corrupt government that has probably used chemical weapons on its own people.
So now who’s going to be “weak on terror?”
But again, for us to get involved in Syria, Republicans would have to endorse something President Obama supports.
And we know most of them won’t do this — and so does he. That’s what I think makes this absolutely brilliant.
He can take a bold call for his support of military action, something that will anger many within his own party, and force Republicans to either look weak on terror or support something he’s publicly said he supports.
No matter which decision they make, it’s going to make them look weak.
Their whole bet had been that Obama would either back off and look weak himself, or bypass Congress and go into Syria without support.
Well, he did neither. Essentially, he called their bluff and put it on Congress (more specifically Republicans) to make that call.
But I don’t think for even a second he believes he’ll get approval from Congress, because Republicans have had the political strategy the last few years of, “Whatever Obama does, just do the opposite.” I always use the joke that if Obama came out in support of oxygen, Republicans would suffocate.
So while liberals can get up in arms over Obama publicly endorsing military involvement in Syria, they always tend to forget that he’s a brilliant chess player.
Remember this past spring when liberals threw a fit over his budget proposal that included a chained CPI? The outrage was ridiculous. I told these people who were overreacting to calm down, that Obama had a plan. Then at the end of the day, almost exactly what I said would happen—did. Republicans turned on the chained CPI proposal (something they had actually pushed for) and the budget never even sniffed the possibility of being passed.
Which most of the American people blamed Congressional Republicans for — something I theorized was Obama’s plan with his budget all along.
Now he’s doing the same thing with his decision on Syria. He made his stand, called their bluff (not going it without Congressional support as the right-wing media had fear mongered on for weeks) and has decided to let Congress decide.
And if the last few years of Congressional Republican behavior is any indication, we stand absolutely no chance at getting involved in Syria.
Which will be truly ironic coming from the party which started our last 2 wars and had its last two presidential candidates run on the promise of being “tough on terror.” So I guess in 2016, whoever Republicans pick to run won’t be able to use that line to pander to their voters.
Unless Republicans do what they haven’t done since Obama became President — support something he’s endorsed. And I’m pretty sure Obama knew, with his comments today, that is something they just won’t do.
But at the end of the day, Republicans in Congress will have the tougher questions (and decision) to make — not President Obama.
He doesn’t need to worry about being re-elected, but they do.