Barack Obama will be making his big push to convince the American people, and Congress, to support his plan to launch an attack on Syria. Obama will appear on all six major evening news programs on Monday, followed by an address to the nation Tuesday night. The U.S. Senate has already begun the process of deliberating on a resolution to give Obama the approval he wants. Most observers and swells predict the Senate will pass the measure by a significant margin. But over in the House of Representatives, the situation looks bleak. Some estimates show as many as 300 ′NO′ votes if the Senate-drafted resolution were to be voted on immediately. With phone calls from constituents to Capitol Hill running about 90 to 1 against U.S. action in Syria, most Republicans and a large number of Democrats worry how a ′YES′ vote would impact them in the 2014 elections.
The consequences to Obama are dire, indeed! The White House has already signaled that even if Congress votes no, Obama may go ahead and attack the Assad regime anyway. Since Obama is not facing reelection, the worse case scenario is that the House would try to impeach him. Obviously, this would not go very far since the Senate is still currently controlled by the Democrats. Beyond that, the only other major negative for Obama is that he would be crippled politically and face uphill fights on every other issue coming up, such as the next federal budget and raising the debt ceiling again.
On the other hand, a ′NO′ vote by the House could help Obama in his never-ending blame game. The problem with this idea is that while about 80% of GOP House members oppose a U.S. strike in Syria, a fairly large percentage of Democrat House members do as well. So the more bipartisan a NO-vote is, the less useful the outcome would be to Obama.
Naturally, the Democrat leadership is beating the drums to support Obama come hell or high water. He′s their president and failing to back him up now would make Obama a lame duck. But, unlike Obama, they are facing reelection and right now, voting YES could be the kiss of death, ending their political careers. Across the aisle, we have a different situation. The Republican leadership is in favor of backing Obama while most of their caucus is opposed. Boehner faces a hard sell as Tea Party and hard-core Conservatives demand more principles from their representatives.
Any way you slice it, Barack Obama has opened up a can of worms by seeking political cover from Congress on launching attacks in Syria. Not helping matters is the fact that many members of Congress who have had classified briefings and seen additional video of the chemical weapon attack allegedly launched by Bashar al-Assad remain unconvinced and skeptical. Compounding this are recent statements made by Obama that he never drew a ′Red Line′ and by Pentagon sources who say that some plans still being considered by Obama could involve as many as 75,000 ′boots on the ground′. If nothing else, the next couple of weeks should be interesting to watch as the Washington DC kabuki dance goes into high-gear.