Skip to comments.Why many Republicans won't support Obama on Syria attack
Posted on 09/02/2013 5:41:35 PM PDT by markomalley
Early signs say it will be hard for President Obama to win congressional authorization for military action in Syria. That could change; lawmakers might re-write the president's draft authorization into something they can live with, ultimately allowing Obama to go forward. But whatever happens, Republicans have a compelling case for rejecting the president's request. Based on off-the-record conversations with some of them, this is it:
1) The chemical weapons evidence. The Obama administration appears to believe that conclusive proof that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians creates an unassailable case for U.S. intervention. A few lawmakers will likely challenge whether the proof is really conclusive. But a far larger number will accept the evidence that Assad used chemical weapons -- and still reject intervention.
Those lawmakers will argue that Obama did not intervene when Assad used conventional weapons to slaughter thousands of innocent people; the death toll in the two-and-and-half-year civil war is put at 100,000. What is different now? They will also point to the various atrocities and human rights violations around the world in which the United States has not intervened. American involvement, they will argue, should be contingent on a genuine U.S. national security interest, not the simple fact that an awful thing has been done.
2) The blank check problem. Lots of lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, believe Obama's draft resolution gives the president too much power. The draft would grant Obama the authority to use armed force "as he determines to be necessary and appropriate" in connection with weapons of mass destruction in Syria, for the purpose of preventing the future use or spread of those weapons, or, more generally, protecting the U.S. and its allies.
For many lawmakers, that's too broad a mandate. But a significant number of members might reject even a narrowed version of the resolution on the grounds that, once the use of force is authorized, Congress as a practical matter will have little control over how the president exercises it.
3) The nature of the Syrian opposition. Many Republicans will never be convinced the U.S. can come to the aid of good rebels in Syria without also helping bad rebels in Syria. It's just too complicated, they believe, and there are simply too many bad guys. Why risk aiding al Qaeda or its affiliates? These Republicans remain unconvinced by arguments from fellow GOP lawmakers like John McCain, who point out that in the Libyan operation the U.S. essentially set up a safe area for good rebels in Benghazi. Given what happened later in that Libyan city, the skeptics will remain unconvinced.
4) The lack of confidence in Barack Obama. There's no doubt the president has been extremely reluctant to take action in Syria. He also showed terrible judgment by painting himself into a corner with his 2012 "red line" comments on chemical weapons. For those reasons, and more, some Republicans will argue that they simply cannot entrust special warmaking powers to a president who they believe is not competent to use them.
5) The "first to die" dilemma. Some Republicans are so war-weary that they would be loathe to authorize any military action in the absence of an actual attack on the United States. When Sen. Rand Paul re-phrased John Kerry's words from Vietnam -- Kerry famously asked, "How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a mistake?" which Paul changed to "How do you ask a man to be the first to die for a mistake?" -- the senator from Kentucky was signaling that there is virtually no way lawmakers like him will ever support a Syrian initiative.
How many Republicans hold some or all of these beliefs? Quite a few. Perhaps in anticipation of a close vote, a new argument is circulating among pro-interventionists which says that protecting the prerogatives of future presidents is so important that Republicans should support Obama's Syrian action even if there is no good case for doing so.
Rejecting Obama could permanently weaken the presidency, argues political scientist James Ceaser in an article cited by influential conservative commentator William Kristol. Therefore, Republicans should vote to authorize force "even if they think that the presidents policy will prove ineffective, do no good, waste money, or entail unforeseen risks even if they think he has gotten the nation into this situation by blunders, fecklessness, arrogance, or naiveté; and even if, and especially, if they have no confidence in his judgment."
That will be a very hard sell for Republicans. In the end, many will carefully consider all the evidence and then vote their instincts. And that will mean a vote against Barack Obama.
The GOPe would do it just to spite the TEA Party.
And just what would they strike that would absolutely remove the threat of chemical weapons from Syrian government hands and from jihadist hands?
No one has offered a plan that relates to US security interests.
Need to distinguish between republicans politicians vs the republican voters
It is simply amazing how these people think of the “presidency” as a king. Support him even if he’s wrong? What the hell is wrong with these people?
I don’t either. I think the GOP will go right along with bath house Barry..
They might give the rubber stamp approval if they get the votes to repeal Obamacare ?
I can’t see it happening. Obama is likely to get perhaps half of his own caucus. He’s unlikely to get half of the Republican side.
In short, even if Obama gets it through the senate, I’d say its DOA in the House.
I’m trying to think in my head who will break with Obama in the senate.
Grahamnesty and McSham of course. Maybe Alexander and Corker.
Who else? I can’t even see Susan Collins saying yes.
More likely, they will sell their vote for pork.
Because Obama is totally inept for the job of military leadership and has no business being seen as ‘commander & chief ‘ .
He is also not adverse to leaving our folks unsupported , then to be killed and then his ineptitude lied about and covered up , ad infitum . F Obama
Let the Syrians kill each other off until none remain .
Give asylum to Syrian Christians ONLY
Atlanta news reported this evening that Chambliss and Isakson were expected to support an attack on Syria. I expected as much from Chambliss. Isakson showing his true colors.
Rejecting Obama could permanently weaken the
Sounds good to me. After Bush and Obama it’s clear that the Executive branch is way too powerful.
I’ve been saying the presidency should be weakened all along and after what we’ve seen from this administration I’m thinking we should consider electing our Attorney General.
Is this STUPID advice or what? So, instead of using common sense, the congress should vote to authorize force regardless of whether they believe that the President is correct.
If they believe that authorization is NOT justified, vote for it anyway. If they believe that authorization is justified, then vote for it. What a deal!
Chances are that the President will do whatever he pleases regardless of the outcome of the Congressional vote.
It doesn't set precedent, or law. Presidents have sometimes gone alone, and sometimes consulted. Every Prez. will be different depending upon the situation.
Obama directing a war in the Mid-East....what could possibly go wrong ?
There are lots of brain-dead pubbies, but not enough, imho. Not all dems will go for it either.
Not to mention our capabilities. To fight it the way McCain and Co. want it done--with some teeth--may be beyond our capabilities. And its sure as hell beyond our budget.
This is a mess. There is something to be said for not tolerating the chemical weapons use...but this administrations’ (and especially Kerry) most serious attempts to create a foreign policy face with Assad has been to Neville Chaimberlain with Assad. Then to feed the Al Queda weeds on the other side, as he has, just created more bad situations.
Even if there could be a right side to this, is there any reason for either or any side to believe that this administration will be willing to do more than flail?
Then, the GOP will share the blame when WW3 breaks out in the Middle East.
We’ll see what the gop does. I think it possible that this entire fiasco is designed to be cover for domestic issues and were being played for suckers. Perhaps dear leader isn’t so much interested in Syria at all as he is in having an issue that will put other domestic issues on the back burner.
As we all know the rat operating philosophy is to never let a crisis go to waste. The timing of this is certainly suspicious. Its not like this is the first or last time the Syrians have used this stuff. Perhaps not the first or last time this year. So why the sudden urgency? Why now? And then why was it suddenly OK for this to wait till Congress reconvenes in another week?
Is the underlying issue be the upcoming fight over boehnercare? I found it very interesting how the gop wing of the uniparty went into hiding over the Syria issue. Then they came out very quickly with their response Saturday. It was almost like it was all ready to go. You dont think it could have been, well, coordinated do you?
How convenient that congress will be discussing Syria over the next few weeks rather than defunding boehnercare. Oh, and the announcement of further gun control measures on Friday was of course Mere Coincidence.
As for what the gop will ultimately do, I doubt it’ll be much different than what the ‘rats do. It’s one big, chummy uniparty.