This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, September 6th, 2013:
As the President tries to rally support for his Senate resolution to bomb Syria to teach Assad a lesson, he is sitting on an ice-cube that is melting.
On Tuesday night, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted underwhelmingly, 10-7, to support a watered-down version of what the White House really wanted: authorization to do what it wanted in Syria. Instead, the language limited his adventure to 60 days with a single 30-day extension, and “no boots on the ground.” It also required Obama to come up with a plan to negotiate a peace treaty among the some 500 different warring parties and interests vying for prominence in Syria.
Out of the 18 members of the committee, five Republicans and two Democrats voted “no,” while liberal Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) – sporting a dismal Freedom Index rating of just 23 – voted “present.”
Liberal representatives in the House are feeling the heat and beginning to see the light as well, including Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), whose FI is just 21, who said “If I had to vote today, I would cast a ‘no’ vote.” Liberal Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) – FI of 24 – was even stronger in his opposition to Obama’s seemingly insatiable desire to attack Assad:
I am not voting for my party. I am not voting [for] my president. I am voting for my country.
The country is ticked off and tired of these foreign adventures and escapades that cost trillions and the blood of thousands of American soldiers. Witness what the Washington Post has just uncovered. In conducting what it called a “whip count,” the Post contacted 371 members of the House of Representatives and learned that 204 of them are either against authorizing the president to attack Syria or are leaning against. Compare that with the just 24 members in favor.
Matt Towery, a veteran pollster with Insider/Advantage Polling, said “I think the president is in extraordinarily deep trouble, as are the House leaders [Boehner and Cantor] who put their necks out on this.” Indeed, the latest polls are showing decreasing support for the president in his determination to salvage his reputation and punish Assad and teach him a lesson. Every poll conducted since July 15th shows waning support, including NBC News, CBS News, and Quinnipiac. But the big Mack-daddy of them all – Gallup – shows the most decline: 53 percent disapprove of the president’s foreign policy, while just 40 percent approve – an amazing 13 point negative spread.
The president, believing in his own invincibility, has decided unilaterally that his way is the best way to make things better in Syria, and has stepped into a mess that he can’t get out of. This was never made more clear than in a letter from The Big Pharaoh, a “well-known Egyptian blogger” according to the Washington Post, which received it. Said the Post, a chart accompanying the letter was “terrifying” as he explained the Middle East muddle in a few short trenchant sentences:
Sir, Iran is backing Assad. Gulf states are against Assad!
Assad is against Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi [Egypt’s general currently running the place].
But Gulf states are pro-Sisi! Which means they are against Muslim Brotherhood!
Iran is pro-Hamas, but Hamas is backing Muslim Brotherhood!
Obama is backing Muslim Brotherhood, yet Hamas is against the U.S.!
Gulf states are pro-U.S. But Turkey is with Gulf states against Assad; yet Turkey is pro-Muslim Brotherhood against General Sisi. And General Sisi is being backed by the Gulf states!
Welcome to the Middle East and have a nice day.
This is so typical of the president who has, from the very beginning, believed his own press clippings. As Edward Klein, author of The Amateur, explained:
On the evening of Tuesday, June 30, 2009, Barack Obama invited nine like-minded liberal historians to have dinner with him in the Family Quarters of the White House…
Obama wasn’t shy about flaunting his famous self-confidence. He intended to bring the Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table and create a permanent peace in the Middle East.
He would open a constructive dialogue with America’s enemies in Iran and North Korea and, through his powers of persuasion, help them see the errors of their ways….
It was, by any measure, a breathtaking display of narcissistic grandiosity from a man whose entire political curriculum vitae consisted of seven undistinguished years in the Illinois senate, two mostly absent years in the United States Senate, and five months and ten days in the White House.
Unintentionally, Obama revealed the characteristics that made him totally unsuited [emphasis in the original] for the presidency and that would doom him to failure: his extreme haughtiness and excessive pride, his ideological bent as a far-left corporatist, and his astounding amateurism.
When the Congress reopens for business next week, the first order will be Syria. By all accounts, Obama’s failure will be so massive as to end, for all intents and purposes, his reign as Supreme Monarch and Director of History of the Western World. It will reveal instead a shrinking presidency, and the defeat will take down with it the careers of Republicans who thought they could advance their careers by going along with the Syrian intervention: Boehner and Cantor. Said pollster Towery:
Obama will seek to blame the Republicans if he loses the vote on Syria, as he has with issue after issue. On this occasion I believe the strategy will fail – because as the United States comes to look weaker and weaker, so too will President Obama.
I don’t think this will be a history-making failure on Obama’s part because I think his presidency is … pretty much at its end anyway.
[But] it would be very difficult for Boehner and Cantor to be reelected to leadership in the House….
To answer the question raised above: yes, there is about to be some good out of the Syrian mess: a much weaker, fully exposed president as an ideological amateur, being supported by political self-seekers who will find themselves having to find other work after November 2014. The best of all worlds may result: Syria left alone to sort out its enormous internal difficulties without the aid of the US, an emasculated president, and a chastened Congress. These are not bad things.
The Financial Times: A short guide to the Middle East
Real Clear Politics: Latest polls
Real Clear Politics: President Obama Job Approval – Foreign Policy