Skip to comments.Obama bets big on attacking Syria
Posted on 09/09/2013 3:41:26 AM PDT by onyx
If Congress votes against a military attack on President Bashar Assads regime, Obamas credibility may be shot, perhaps for the rest of his tenure. At a minimum, it would cement the idea that he is weak in Washington, let alone worldwide.
Ever since his surprising announcement on Aug. 31 that he would seek Capitol Hills approval for a strike on Syria, votes have piled up against the idea, especially in the House.
The president might yet turn the tide. But, if he does not do so, experts say the damage would be far reaching. If he loses this vote, not only is he flummoxed in domestic policy but hes frustrated in what he wants to do on foreign policy, said Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. It would be kind of shocking to the political system.
Syria could be Obamas Hurricane Katrina, condemning him to irrelevance at the same point as his predecessor, in the first September of his second term. Humiliation would come just as Obama is girding to battle Republicans over raising the federal debt ceiling, funding the government, implementing ObamaCare and pushing an immigration bill through the House.
His leverage in those fights stems from his reelection and a Democratic caucus that has found political advantage in supporting his agenda.
But he is out on a limb over Syria. Nearly 60 percent of the public opposes a military strike, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll last week.
If Congress rebuffed his request for support, it would compound defeats he has already suffered this year on gun control and on an economic plan that never gained traction despite Obamas nationwide campaigning this summer.
Politics is a lot like sports momentum matters, said Democratic strategist Tad Devine. If you get good positive momentum, you can achieve your goals. But if you lose, then you start going backwards. For the president, he starts off with all the indicators being there wont be a lot of support, and if he wins this it will be by the narrowest of margins, so its very risky.
A presidential loss would embolden House Republicans already disinclined to give ground in autumns battles.
It would be a tremendous blow to the presidents legacy that ...Congress refuses his request for an authorization to act on the world stage, said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean. Were in uncharted territory. Hed have a weakened hand and be seen as a weak leader going into a very hard fight.
The president himself acknowledged Friday that he knew this was going to be a heavy lift. He was aware, he said, that he was elected to end wars and not start them, and he ruefully conceded that he had a pretty good sense of how unpopular strikes would be.
I understand the skepticism, Obama said. I think it is very important, therefore, for us to work through systematically making the case to every senator and every member of Congress, and that is what were doing.
Tuesdays televised address from the White House will be crucial. It will be the administrations closing argument after a week courting lawmakers.
While traveling in Europe this week, Obama has worked the phones, calling lawmakers that the White House sees as critical to securing a winning coalition. He canceled a Monday fundraising trip to Los Angeles, and a White House aide said he would use the time instead to make his case.
Vice President Biden gave a dinner for a dozen Republican senators on Sunday to discuss the Syria authorization resolution. White House chief of staff Dennis McDonough will meet the House Democratic caucus on Tuesday.
Obama will find it hard to convince the public that a military attack on Syria is justified and important to their security, Devine said, adding, It has to be tangible and persuasive and emotive to change minds and get people invested, and thats whats necessary to break through.
Another element of that effort is the presidents decision to give interviews to six major TV networks on Monday.
Democrats say the White Houses strategy is high risk, but also high reward.
If Obama succeeds, hell have the authority of a wartime president, and a major victory headed into budget negotiations. So the outreach effort to lawmakers, who often complain that the White House is standoffish, could also pay dividends.
You could see the political tension ease a bit because youve had the president dealing with [House Speaker John] Boehner, dealing with some of the Republican leadership on Syria, said Democratic strategist Doug Thornell. They arent going to be entering the debate on the debt ceiling and funding the government after several months of not dealing with one another.
Moreover, Obamas bets are partly hedged by the willingness of top Republicans, including Boehner (Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), to support him. Its not just the president who has skin in the game here, Thornell said.
Still, it is Obama who has the most to lose. Boehner and Cantor said they would not whip on the Syrian resolution, and a big loss in the House would be seen as a defeat for Obama, not for them.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said Obamas leverage in the looming fiscal fights would suffer if Congress shoots down the Syria resolution.
If Obama doesnt come into those debates with some momentum, Moran said, then the Republicans will have the upper hand.
Hes got to have some leverage and hes got to be able to use the bully pulpit on those issues, Moran said Friday in a phone interview. Its not just his status with Congress, its his status with the public.
yes call em all.
and dont forget to pray
Right. Always pray.
And make certain, you call on Wednesday... AFTER his speech.
Indeed, but better late than never.
We must make our Wednesday calls!
Morons fell right into his own little trap. They're now in the same boat with him.
wouldnt it be funny if the dummyprompter got loaded with the wrong speech ?
Unprincipled, spineless traitors.
Every real poll says 90%... 90% at ^own Halls, 90% on every other poll... communists say 60%. I hate liars. They still can’t get close to a majority even with their lying.
Bennie RAT Thompson is even leaning and almost a solid NO.
This is all Bulls....,I have seen this crap for decades,Obama will come out on top,thanks to Republicans,oh but fear not,it will be by just one or two votes FOLKS we did our best but we must stand behind the President.
Face it FOLKS,we have no control over anything,we are all manipulated from one crisis to the next,when the most secretive,incompetent buffoon can get elected twice,you know the jig is up.
Need more proof,we had AlQueda fly airplanes into the world trade center buildings killing thousands,we are fighting AlQueda in Iraq,Afghanistan,Africa,they murder us any place they can,now Our President is pulling out all the stops to convince us to attack Assad,weakening him and as a result allowing The same Al Queda to acquire the same Chemical Weapons we store right here in the old U.S.,for what,we would never use them right? Also this is the same AlQueda that murdered Americans in That Phony scandal in Benghazi,and you think this is all sane? We are going to be their Air Force?!!
There is something in the water FOLKS,either that or we are getting subliminal messages from our phones or tv’s.
I think this article and meme may be baloney. He may desperately want Congress to vote it down. He is then off the hook. His blunder is fixed. He cannot defeat Syria Russia and the rebels/Al Qaeda all at once. Buy he can and has continually bested rino dupes in congress, his favorite enemy. Behind closed doors he will crack the champaign, light up a cigar (or choom), then call and thank slick Willie for the idea.
. . . the jolly candy-colored button . . .
The same mentally ill, empty moralism on Syria, agendas of Obozo Liar, Queeg McAinal, Kerry the Faux Vietnam hero, and congressional rats wanting to bomb Syria could apply to 9/11!
I can not see Obama making a compelling Wilsonian argument (lie) to draws the US into the war. The speech will most likely be to abdicate his duty as commander in chief onto the congress and UN. This will set him up to blame everyone else no matter the outcome in Syrian Civil War.