President Obama is finally bringing together the unruly and ideologically opposed factions of Congress.
But unfortunately for Obama and his administration, the once fractious and dysfunctional American Congress is unifying in opposition to Obama’s proposed limited military strike against Syria.
And becoming a very strong and vociferous coalition of the unwilling and unsympathetic.
This is American history in the making, folks.
Rarely has an American President, who has sought Congressional authority to use limited force in a foreign war, been so decisively rejected by the elected representatives and the American people.
Recall that there are 433 members in the US House of Representatives. Obama needs 217 votes in order to pass his use of force measure for a limited US military strike on Syria.
As of Sunday, September 8, 2013, according to informal polling by the Washington Post, 111 reps are against military action; 115 reps are leaning to no military action; 182 reps are undecided and 25 reps are for military action.
Of those against military action 24 reps are Democratic and 87 are Republicans. Of those leaning against military action, 38 are Democrats and 77 are Republicans. Of the undecided, there are 120 Democrats and 62 Republicans. Only eight Republicans are strongly in favour of military action. And only 17 Democrats are strongly in favour of military action.
As of Sunday, if all those House members against military action and those leaning against military action do not change their positions, then Obama’s attempt to seek Congressional support will fail.
Obama has to win over all the undecided, about 182 reps and especially, 62 undecided Republicans. Which is highly unlikely.
Time is running out for Obama.
Obama is planning a Tuesday evening, September 10, prime-time national television speech. The Senate is to vote this upcoming week. And next week, the House of Representatives will have a decisive vote.
It is fascinating to note that though the Obama Administration is pressing House Democrats to vote for the measure in order to preserve Obama’s credibility both in the US and abroad, progressive Democrats are clearly resisting this last desperate pitch.
Progressive House Democrat Alan Grayson of Florida has come out very publicly in opposition to his own President on this measure. Grayson has stated that embarrassing the president by tanking Obama’s authorization is the furthest thing from his mind.
“We’re talking about war and peace. We’re talking about money and blood. We can’t be making our decisions on that basis,” [referring to the need to support the pro-war measure in order to salvage Obama’s personal reputation and his authority] he said after a classified briefing on Thursday.
Similarly, House Democrats who are opposed to this war measure do not want to appear traitors to their own party. Therefore they are categorizing their probable vote against their own President, as votes of conscience.
These issues are not about a party position. These are votes of conscience,” said Democrat Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. She too is undecided — a position where many Democrats feel most comfortable several days before they will be asked to vote “yea” or “nay.”
Another serious problem for Obama is that Democrats opposed to the strike aren’t just dovish liberals. For example, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a conservative Democrat, has already publicly announced that he cannot support the resolution. And undecided Democrats are more apt to ask critical questions of Obama on Syria than automatically back the president.
“We can’t afford another…Iraq and Afghanistan, two long, drawn-out engagements that cost a lot of lives,” said undecided Democrat Senator Mark Begich of Alaska. “We have a lot of questions still to be answered here, even though the commitment is no boots on the ground. Where does this leave us?”
In addition, many Democrats who may have supported Obama are opposed to this war measure, because such an American military action against Syria lacks UN authority and may be considered illegal under international law, as this military action cannot be categorized as the US acting in its own self-defence.
Furthermore, this proposed action lacks the support of NATO and even Britain, America’s staunchest military ally in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
In summary, as a result of Obama’s ill-conceived effort to seek Congressional support for this Syrian war measure, one can say that Obama has finally united the red states and the blue states, at least temporarily.
But in opposition to his own Presidency.
Once again, life has a funny way of seeking revenge, especially against someone whose overweening pride and sense of his own grandeur has led to his own downfall and personal failure.
President Obama, “no good deed, goes unpunished.”
And you will be punished by the coalition of the unwilling Americans.