This morning President Obama stepped up to a podium in the White House Rose Garden and announced that he would be doing the responsible thing with regard to Syria’s use of chemical weapons:
“While I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective.”
Obama has been harshly criticized by members of both parties for his apparent intention to move forward with a strike on Syria without first getting a specific authorization from Congress. This morning’s announcement came as a surprise to many in the media who had presumed that the President had made up his mind to act unilaterally. Now that he has put the ball in Congress’s court, the same critics on the right are criticizing him for doing precisely what they advised him to do. Immediately following Obama’s address, Fox News turned to their panel of pundits for analysis, and they reacted in a predictably negative fashion, saying the President was weak and reluctant and indecisive. All because he took their advice, and that of many others including, according to the polls, the American people.
Steve Hayes: One can certainly argue the case, and there are plenty of people who believe, both in congress and out, that he should get congressional authorization, but there’s a long history…where presidents have taken it upon themselves as Commander-in-Chief…to take that action, that authority, upon himself and go ahead. [...] It’s a good political decision. I’m not so sure it’s a good decision for the Commander-in-Chief.
Charles Krauthammer: This should be done in three days. It isn’t as if people aren’t aware of the arguments. He should go out there, bring them in, and have it done by the end of the week, and the world, I think, will have a little bit higher respect.
James Rosen: Presidents, of course, like to portray themselves as the shapers of history, as shaping the forces around them. In this case, what President Obama has effectively done, and this requires no resort to opinion here – this is a matter of objective fact – is he has placed himself now in the role of witness to power, the power he has now invested in congress.
All of these critics, who essentially agree with Obama’s decision to seek the opinion of congress, still manage to fault him for doing so. So even though he is doing the right thing, he is still wrong because other presidents didn’t bother to ask for congressional approval; or because it will take too long; or because he is abdicating power to another equal branch of government. It’s just as I predicted yesterday when I wrote that conservatives will always find a reason to bash whatever this President does:
They have instituted their typical strategy of being against anything and everything that might emerge from the White House. One faction of the GOP says that if Obama does not strike Syria, then he is weak. Simultaneously, another faction warns that such an attack would be an unconstitutional abuse of power. One side says he must strike because he drew a “red line” last year over chemical weapons. The other side says attacking for that reason would be an act of vanity. One side says he must wait for allies and the United Nations to sanction any attack. The other side says that doing so would be an abdication of our sovereignty.
There is one thing missing from every right-wing criticism: what they would do. I have yet to hear what Ted Cruz’s plan is; or John Boehner’s; or Don Rumsfeld’s; or Rush Limbaugh’s. These people have nothing but complaints and no ideas or solutions. It’s pretty much the same way they deal with health care, immigration reform, the economy, etc. They bitch relentlessly and offer nothing constructive.
They have proven this repeatedly in the past, and today just confirms their commitment to a kneejerk hostility toward Obama. These right-wing pundits could easily be replaced by an automated outrage machine. Just play a statement from Obama, push a button, and get a pre-chewed Tea-publican rant about how awful whatever he said was. We already know what Mitch McConnell thinks; or Donald Trump; or even Sarah Palin who said yesterday, “Our Nobel Peace Prize winning President needs to seek Congressional approval before taking us to war.” She also said that her solution is to just “let Allah sort it out.” So what do you think she will say now that Obama is seeking congressional approval? My guess is that she will viciously attack him for it. After all, she also said this yesterday:
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