Strange Bedfellows


This weekend, President Obama partially convinced John “Bomb-Bomb-Bomb” McCain and his zany sidekick, Lindsey “More Butch than 10,000 Teabaggers” Graham, of the wisdom of his Syria intervention policy. The hotheaded duo imply they were lured onboard by assurances of extra ka-booms, covert operations and other cool war-stuff executed by not-their-kids.

Good for Obama for passing the Syria hot potato to Congress, as is right and proper. But this Obama supporter will be rooting for Congress to say no. Having McCain on the “other side” makes that a little easier.

McCain, who had previously rejected the administration’s Syria intervention proposals because he deemed them too soft, and who surely knows that the public will reject a full-blown war as too hard, requires a war footing that his Goldilocks sense gauges as “just right.” McCain and Graham’s comments after their weekend meeting with the president signaled their tentative willingness to climb into the sack: McCain said a vote against the authorization of force resolution “would be catastrophic” and “undermine the credibility of the United States.”

But as Steve Benen notes, that rationale doesn’t make much sense:

By his reasoning, any time any president prepares to use military force abroad, Congress must agree or risk undermining the credibility of the United States. But what if lawmakers have sincere policy differences with an administration and they’re right to oppose intervention abroad? To hear McCain tell it, that wouldn’t much matter—lawmakers should feel an obligation to approve a resolution anyway.

And, as Benen also noted, McCain and his South Carolina appendage appear poised to withdraw their support if they deem the strike plans insufficiently warlike after the details emerge. Sadly, this pair of Klingon wannabes is what passes for foreign policy “wise men” in the Republican Party.

With Boehner now signaling his willingness to go along, it’s clear that Obama has dialed the correct sleep number into the GOPosturepedic—so far. How far rightward is he willing to be dragged to keep their support, if at all? Launching an attack on another country invites all sorts of unpredictable outcomes, which is one reason it truly should be a last resort. Aligning an agenda with the likes of McCain, Graham, Boehner, etc., also has all kinds of potential for blow-back. Still thinking this is a mistake.

[X-posted at Balloon Juice]

Posted by Betty Cracker on 09/03/13 at 11:04 AM • Permalink

Categories: NewsPoliticsBarack ObamaElection '08St. McSameNuttersWar In Error

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But, but, surely Rand Paul will filibuster all this away! (yes, with snark.)

I admit to really ambiguous feeling about “starting something” on this one. I felt queasy from the minute the president talked about “red lines” because it introduced a clear condition that, once met, would have to be addressed. Once that was out there, and evidence that chemical weapons were used,  this debate became inevitable, as well as Obama’s position on it. I’ve been speculating that some part of this looks to me like “war theater” in the hopes that Assad will be duly impressed that even if we aren’t doing unto Damascus right now, we certainly could.  And his position would be a little more precarious than when he was dealing with the assorted rebel groups alone—meaning he puts away the mass murdering tools and we call it “compliance”.

But now that this is in the hands of Congress, it looks like an awful lot depends on them actually being responsible to their constituents (who mostly don’t want another “military intervention”, or whatever they call it) and not posing for the cameras. (And my faith wavers…) Is Obama hoping that House GOP inability to give him anything he asks for will prevent our entree into a conflict that really isn’t our job? Or is he not really so much being “dragged to the right” as establishing his line of maximum motherfucker tolerance?

I wish I knew. I don’t like anything that gives us a foot in the door to war because of the McCain “always be escalating” types. At the same time, I’d appreciate it if there was a public debate about when, how, why we use force. And how, when, why we don’t.

I suspect that by backing himself into the “red line” corner, about the only choice Obama had left to stop a US strike is seeing just how crazy the rethugs are with regard to the “give Obama NOTHING” agenda.  That of course is assuming that Obama really doesn’t want to do this and all the threatening is an attempt to achieve the same outcome but with less/no bomb-bomb.  I’m more than OK with a designation of “compliance”. 

As an intellectual exercise, it is quite interesting; as a real world, ohshitwe’rekillingpeople issue, it leaves huge volumes to be desired.  Debate: yes; lots, lots more of it is needed!

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