Obama Suddenly Discovers Congress
I just re-read Obama's Saturday statement in which he announced that he intended to go to Congress to win approval for his "shot across the bow" against Syria. According to various reports, Obama's sudden reversal shocked everyone, including his closest aides.
Here's how Obama explained his decision: "I'm also mindful that I'm the president of the world's oldest constitutional democracy. …our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
Really? When did Obama discover Congress and the Constitution? Throughout his presidency he has shown disdain for both. Less than one year after losing the House of Representatives in a historic "shellacking," Obama launched his "We Can't Wait" campaign, vowing to act when Congress would not. And since his reelection in November, Obama has made it clear that he intends for his second term to be defined by an aggressive end-run around Congress on a host of key issues.
Let's review the history.
- Obama's Justice Department stopped enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed by Congress and signed by a previous Democrat president.
- Obama granted amnesty to "Dreamers," the children of illegal immigrants, and his operatives are threatening a similar amnesty for illegal immigrants generally if Congress refuses to pass a quasi-amnesty bill.
- Obama's Environmental Protection Agency is implementing so-called "climate change" regulations that he could not get through Congress because many members of his own party opposed them.
- Obama has unilaterally altered various deadlines written into Obamacare by Congress and granted special exemptions to favored groups.
- Obama put boots on the ground in Libya and adamantly refused to get congressional consent for military operations against Muammar Gaddafi.
- After the Supreme Court struck down unconstitutional restrictions on speech by educational groups, Obama's allies instructed IRS officials to crackdown on such groups if they were conservative in order to neuter them in the 2012 elections.
- Obama ignored congressional rules and made recess appointments that have been declared unconstitutional by several federal courts.
Speaking of the courts, Obama's disdain for our system of "checks and balances" also extends to the judicial branch. He repeatedly and infamously suggested that he might ignore the Supreme Court if it found Obamacare unconstitutional. (Some insiders think that is why Chief Justice John Roberts shied away from a constitutional confrontation he wasn't sure he would win.)
When a federal court ruled that Obama's shutdown of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was overly broad and illegal, his administration kept coming up with new excuses to continue the moratorium, resulting in a contempt citation from the court.
The list goes on.
In view of this history, it is difficult to take Obama's sudden respect for the Constitution seriously when he also insists that he does not need Congress' approval and that he did not set any "red lines." It seems much more likely that what is motivating the president is fear -- fear of public opinion and fear that his limited strikes won't work. (See next item.) If they don't, Obama can blame Congress for tying his hands.
Several commentators have noticed a Tweet by long-time Obama operative David Axelrod that adds to the growing cynicism about what Obama thinks of Congress. Axelrod gleefully noted that because Obama asked for a vote, Congress is now "the dog that caught the car."
Public Skeptical On Syria
Virtually every poll conducted in recent days has found overwhelming opposition to U.S. military involvement in Syria. The latest Pew poll provides some additional explanation for the public's resistance.
According to Pew's findings, the American public simply does not believe that Obama's strategy of "brief and limited" strikes would work. Only one-third of those polled believed U.S. airstrikes would "be effective in discouraging the use of chemical weapons."
Independent voters are especially skeptical -- just a quarter of them think airstrikes will work.
In addition, 61% fear that any U.S. action will lead to "long-term U.S. military commitment." On that point, last year the Pentagon warned the administration it would require 75,000 ground troops to secure Syria's chemical weapons -- an extremely unwelcome prospect in an already war-weary country.
Syria, Benghazi And The IRS
Isn't it amazing that on a far-off Syrian battlefield, in the middle of the fog of war, with no front line, with propaganda and disinformation being deployed by all sides, Barack Obama and John Kerry are absolutely certain of the "facts" they are asserting?
But after a year of investigation, nobody in the administration can figure out who attacked us in Benghazi or who was responsible for wrongdoing at the IRS.