It was announced Thursday that President Obama had sent a request to Congress to fund and arm “moderate” Syrian rebels. This has produced much handwringing in many quarters, but not with me. Here’s why.
Anyone who thinks Congress (especially Congressional Republicans) will happily and readily go along with anything Obama says he wants, raise your hand.
Then smack yourself on the forehead with it.
Obama knows full well that he can’t even get the House to agree to vote for a post office renaming that he’d request, much less anything like declaring or funding a war. He also knows that both the Saudis and the Israelis want to see Assad gone — not because he’s a tyrant (Bandar and Bibi, objecting to tyranny? Pull the other one, it’s got bells on) but because he runs a quasi-socialist and secularist state (their actual objection to Iraq’s Saddam, by the way) — and have been getting quite vocal about it through their favored mouthpieces (yes, DiFi and Reverse Ace, I’m looking at you). So he’s going to use the first circumstance to deal with the second.
This is Obama’s way of telling the House and Senate dingbats to put up or shut up. They’ve been insisting for over a year that he do a full-scale assault and massacreee in the four-part harmony with the 37 8×10 color glossies, and even claiming that if only Obama had thrown a few troop carriers at Assad, Iraq wouldn’t have fallen into the three sections it’s been pretty much destined to fall into ever since the neocons invaded it. Well, Obama the alleged card player’s now called their bluff with a proposal that they’ve claimed they’ve wanted — and they’re silent as the tomb.
Watch to see whether or not Congress actually takes this up. So far, it’s been over seventy-two hours since Obama launched that trial balloon yesterday morning, and there’s been not a substantive peep publicly from Congressional Republicans.
If they thought they could make political hay from it, they’d have spent the past seventy-two hours going all over the airwaves to either attack it as too little, or attack it as too much. But they’re not saying a word now. Instead, they are being very quiet on the subject. My guess is they’re hoping it goes away — not because they’re against killing brown non-Christian people, but because anything they say about this poison pill publicly hurts them politically in one way or another.
If they talk about it only to reject it, they risk hurting themselves with the more traditionally militaristic parts of their base. But neither do they dare embrace it, because they fear that to seem to side with Obama on anything will give him a boost during a midterm election year and hurt them with the Tea Party wing.
If push comes to shove, my guess is that since backing it is more politically perilous for them than rejecting it, they’ll end up rejecting it, but it’s going to take a while for the top Republicans to agree on a set of talking points to blast-text to their minions, so I wouldn’t expect anything substantive before, oh, about Wednesday or so. And they might not say anything publicly, not unless forced. They would much rather not talk about it at all, because the best talking points in the world can’t lubricate this jalapeno-coated marital aid enough to take away its sting. Best to just not say a thing, even though Bandar and Bibi fume.
If this whole thing is still in the news a month from now, I’ll be very surprised.
Photo by Enoch Lau under Creative Commons license