Mr. Secretary? You okay under there?
Hours after concluding that he wanted to bomb Syria like, right now, Obama went for a 45-minute stroll around the Rose Garden with his chief of staff Denis McDonough – his chief political advisor, that is, and decided that the best politics lay in punting the mess he’d created over to Congress,
Returning from that walk, the president called his advisers [sic] in the early evening to inform them of his new decision.
The plan was immediately met with robust resistance from a whiplashed Obama team who had listened to Kerry lay out the administration’s strongest case yet for action against Assad. “My friends, it matters here if nothing is done,” Kerry had argued. “It matters if the world speaks out in condemnation and then nothing happens.”
Obama’s National Security Council had believed since last weekend that requiring a vote was not even on the table and that “consultation” in the form of congressional briefings and behind-the-scenes conversation was all that would be needed before a strike. One senior official noted that no key leaders in Congress had specifically requested a vote on military intervention.
That was yesterday. Today, that same John Kerry had to make the rounds of the television talk shows, where Chris Wallace made things hot.
Wallace asked Kerry if, by delaying any military action, the administration was essentially handing Iran and Syria a win.
He pressed Kerry on the message the administration sent to Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah after President Barack Obama’s speech on Saturday, in which he declared that the U.S. should take military action — but that he was willing to wait nine days for Congress to come back to authorize it. And afterward, Wallace pointed out, Obama played golf.
Wallace also referenced Kerry’s strong statement on Friday, in which he called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a “murderer” and a “thug.”
“If the situation is so dire, if Bashar al-Assad is such a ‘thug,’ why is President Obama waiting until nine days from now? … Why not call [Congress] in to session tomorrow and begin this debate?” Wallace asked.
After Kerry made news and told Wallace of the new evidence obtained by the U.S. of Syria’s use of sarin gas, Wallace pressed him again. He played a clip from his speech Friday, one in which Kerry said that failure to act would embolden Iran, Hezbollah, North Korea, and future dictators seeking to obtain chemical weapons.
“Mr. Secretary, what message are we sending to Iran, and Hezbollah, and North Korea, when the President announces he thinks we should take military action, but is going to wait nine days for Congress to come back before he takes action?” Wallace said.
“And then he goes off and plays a round of golf. What message does that send to the rebels on the ground whose lives are in danger, and to our enemies who are watching?”
Kerry said that Iran and North Korea should “take note” that the U.S. has “confidence in its democratic process” to go through Congress. He also said that by waiting, the U.S. does not “lose anything” militarily — something Obama said on Saturday.
“The rebels lose something, sir. They lose the possibility that they’re going to get killed sometime soon,” Wallace interjected.
Kerry told Wallace he was “amazed” by Wallace’s apparent suggestion that the administration should have proceeded without Congress.
I relish the pain Obama is inflicting on the gawky cheese-eating surrender Monkey from Massachusetts: couldn’t happen to a more deserving Lurch. But those still left in Washington who think that the President is their ally must be observing what’s been done to Kerry: lure him out on a limb, saw it off, and then publicly humiliate him by forcing him to claim that Obama’s plan B was what he’d advised all along, and realize that Obama has no allies, only tools, to be used as he sees fit. Barry is said to have a rotten relationship with his fellow Democrats already precisely because of his self-absorbtion. This won’t help.