By David J Beilstein
I wonder if President Barack Obama does not get congressional approval and decides to strike Syrian regime targets anyway, will such actions set off a constitutional crisis?
Dr Victor Davis Hanson, National Review contributor, ponders this, writing,
“If he [Pres. Barack Obama] chooses to go ahead and attack [Syria] anyway, Obama will incite a constitutional crisis—the first time in history that a president as decided to go to war against the declared wishes of Congress. The public and the courts will adjudicate the legality of that act, and it would be contentious.
So the corner that Obama has painted himself into is now inescapable. Defying Congress will put the country into a Watergate/Monicagate mess. Not doing anything will confirm the administration’s impotence and only enhance Russia, Iran, Assad, China, Islamists, and almost anyone else who does not like the U.S. Doing something small, with or without congressional approval, will be looked upon as a cynical waste of human lives to restore Obama’s credibility, the sort of craven, immoral political act that a younger Obama made a career out of mocking. Doing something big will invite public and global outrage if only moderately successful, and doom the Obama presidency if unsuccessful.
How did Obama get himself into this mess? It was bound to happen, given his past habits. All we are seeing now is the melodramatic fulfilment of vero possumus, lowering the rising seas, faux Corinthian columns, hope and change, the bows, the Cairo speech, and the audacity of hope. Hubris does earn Nemesis.
One could easily say, also, that a lack of preparedness—and an immense lack of submission to reality encapsulating Obama White House policies, too, has already incited a kind of pede claudo on the country.
We all heard about the fertile textures of Barack Obama’s mind—the legion of Ivy league heavyweight champions at his beckon call. And we heard the leftists’ bloviating on Obama’s professorial erudition—which I seemed to have missed the grounds for.
I seem to find myself noticing Obama constantly starting and stopping with a collision of “ah’s” and “um’s” when speaking extraneously, especially at Rose Garden press conferences, and White House briefings. The brother is not classically articulate—no matter what his admirer’s opine—and Pres. Obama’s handling of many another issue foreign and domestic has been a decidedly disastrous calamity of shuck and jive gymnastics.
Sure, Obama gives impressive, often soaring in rhetoric big-event speeches. But so do a cadre of TBN Word of Faith reverends, most of them do not say anything worthy of wheel-barrel races at the local horse stables.
Still, Obama got the accolades. And worse, Obama got the votes—a lot of them—of the American people. He did so twice. Yes, Barack Obama is the legitimate 44th President of these United States. He is my President.
I find myself unable to decide whether the problem exists with us, Americans—or the President?
Dr Hanson—who is not President of the U.S. (unfortunately)—but is equally professorial, and a historian of things war and peace, sums up things quite nicely when he writes,
[President] Obama thinks in an untrained manner and for all the talk of his erudition and education seems bored and distracted—and it shows up in the most critical moments. Had he wished to stop authoritarians, prevent bloodshed and near genocide, and foster true reform in the Middle East, there were plenty of prior, but now blown occasions: a) the “good” war in Afghanistan could have earned his full attention; b) the “bad” Iraq War was won and needed only a residual force to monitor the Maliki government and protect Iraq airspace and ensure quiet; c) the green revolution in Iran was in need of moral support; d) Qaddafi could have been continually pressured for further reform rather than bombed into oblivion; e) postwar Libya needed U.S. leadership to ensure that “lead from behind” did not lead to the present version of Somalia and the disaster in Benghazi; e) long ago, the president could have either kept quiet about Syria or acted on his threats when Assad was tottering and the resistance was less Islamist; f) he [Obama] could have warned the one vote/one time Muslim Brotherhood early on not to what everyone in the world knew it would surely do; g) he need not have issued tough serial deadlines to Iran that we have not really enforced and probably have no intention of enforcing.
Instead, Obama relied on his rhetoric and talked loosely, sloppily and inconsistently from crisis to crisis, the only common denominator being that he always took the path of least resistance and thus did nothing concretely to match his cadences. Usually to the degree he made a decision, he made things worse with empty, first-person bombast.
Dr Hanson goes on to light up the president with a litany of tier-one complaints; Obama cannot attract top talent. Those, writes the good doctor, who showed unusual flare and talent—Marine General James Mattis, Stanley McChrystal, Paul Volcker—were treated poorly or were not “fully utilised. Meanwhile, a batch of second stringers have won favour with the president; people like Eric Holder, Joe Biden, Susan Rice, Timothy Geithner, and Chuck Hagel, etc.
Summing up, Dr Hanson writes:
“If the congressional vote is, as I hope, no, Obama should quietly (i.e. don’t blame Congress, the world, the public, etc.) back out of the bombing mode, more quietly continue the belated work of promoting a pro-Western resistance to Assad, mend fences with allies most quietly, and prepare very carefully (but without the bombast) for a real crisis on the near horizon that will need the public, the Congress, our allies, and the president’s full attention and response. In our new Vienna-summit-to-Cuban-missile-crisis era of danger, I fear our enemies and rivals are digesting the Syrian misadventure and calibrating to what degree they might soon turn our present psychodrama into a real American tragedy.
Hard to know what Pres. Obama will decide if Congress hands him a “no” on his planned Syrian strike. But whatever it is—and I am myself always reminded of it—we would do well to “hold onto our butts.”