I believe I give the president as much criticism as anybody on this site when it is appropriate. After watching the speech on Syria I came away impressed not only with his reasoning but the sheer political jujitsu that he showed, whether that was intentional or not.
I must admit that I didn't see this coming. Throwing the ball back to congress after giving a detailed yet clear rationale of why action should be taken was pretty damn smart. Actually it was down right clever. David Kurtz summed it up with his post on TPM immediately following the speech today "a surgical strike of another kind". Kurtz basically said that this move by Obama will almost certainly inflame the civil war within the GOP between the Isolationists and the Interventionists. While I mostly agree with that synopsis I wonder how many of these "interventionists" are going to hold the line when it is president Obama that is calling the shots and not Bush or Reagan?
For the most part it seems that the people who are anti war within liberal circles and the democratic party establishment have been consistent in their opposition to any involvement. Even those who have given support to the president have called for prudence, more clarity about the strategy and have expressed uneasiness with open ended military action. At least we seem to be having an honest debate on our side.
The modern GOP however seems so devoid of intellectual integrity now that their core values appear to be only fear, greed and Obama hatred. That hatred and belief that Barack Obama is just genetically unqualified to be the president is one of the few things that binds them but it also blinds them. They are so blinded by it that the GOP will destroy the economy with the debt limit, they will starve their constituents with no food assistance, and they would rather people go without health insurance than even be seen as helping Obamacare succeed. Now that is a very powerful obstacle to any reasonable discourse in this country, so what makes anybody think that the GOP will actually have a logical reaction if Obama does decide to go to war?
The same people who were attacking the Dixie Chicks and renaming French Fries 11 years ago for not being patriotic enough to support the troops are now horrified that Obama wants to be the worlds policeman. "He looks weak", "He is incompetent", "He is not qualified to lead". Eventually a group of them are probably going to coalesce into a well organized, well financed (and fake) "grass-roots" conservative anti-war movement. This group will then probably use the freedom works blue print to build up their media presence and start pumping out the white papers and press releases. The mouth-breathers will get their marching orders from FOX and because Obama is on one side and he is a Muslim brotherhood, terrorist, Kenyan, who doesn't even belong in the white house, they will dutifully take the opposing view. At some point they will probably begin to beat the drum for impeachment under the pretext that any action that the president has taken is extra constitutional and a high crime.
I know it sounds far fetched right? But remember Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics back in 09? I do. I just happened to be watching the announcement on FOX (don't ask). I distinctly remember that when Chicago lost the bid the folks on FOX actually looked relieved. Relieved. I was stunned. That was just year 1 of his presidency and even then his opponents would rather have had Chicago lose the Olympics to Rio than Obama "win". I guess I was still euphoric about winning the 08 election because I was amazed that Americans would be rooting against Americans. But that was a sobering indication of things to come. I guess that is why when I saw that Donald Rumsfeld said that the president had not justified the case for an attack, I just lost my shit. All we need now is Dick Cheney's lying-war-loving-five-deferment ass to fly down from the roof of what ever undisclosed cave he's been hanging upside down in and say "there is just not enough evidence here to go to war".
With Obama's move today the republicans have to deal with the war in their own ranks and finally go on record with their true agenda. Liberals have correctly argued that the president is not supreme and should not make a unilateral decision to engage in this conflict. This move puts the administration in a position where they can say "we took it to the American people and they said yea or nay". But just as importantly when Assad does more shit like this (and he will) the Obama administration has laid the groundwork to have a moral prerogative for military action. And yes, to be clear I do feel that NBC's are an apostasy to any and all conventions of warfare of any kind; written, spoken, implied, or assumed.
In chess terms I believe you call this move an "elephant trap". Black's knight baits the other side into believing they are starting out with a blunder. White takes the bait and moves aggressively to take black's pawn. But eventually white is left with only one possible move to avoid checkmate and ends up losing their own knight. Black wins the knight because white was going all in believing that black has shown weakness and made a mistake on his opening move. War is serious stuff but the obvious multiple ironies here are pretty comical. Well played POTUS.