John Kerry has been making the rounds claiming that Obama can bomb Syria even if Congress votes against it. The legalities are disputed among constitutional lawyers, but telling the world that the Obama administration reserves the right to bomb Syria regardless of what Congress says is probably not the smartest way to lobby for votes.
Some fence sitters will be infuriated by what they will see as a display of arrogance into voting no. Others, reluctantly preparing to cast an unpopular yes vote out of loyalty to the president will have second thoughts if it looks as if the president is asking them to jump in front of a bus for him. After all, if he’s going to do it anyway, why should they risk their careers on the vote—and why is a man who can’t run for re-election trying to protect himself by throwing the burden on people who do have the future to think about? Even those who believe that the strikes are necessary may end up voting no or voting ‘present’ if they will believe that the president will do it anyway. Nobody on either side of this debate wants to take an unnecessary political hit.
It’s rare to watch an administration tumble into this kind of shambolic disarray, especially in a second term when the shakedown cruise is supposedly over. For the country’s sake, let’s hope the WH finds its political feet sooner rather than later. This kind of meltdown doesn’t help anybody.
[John Kerry image courtesy of Shutterstock]