We are witnessing the implosion of the Obama administration's case for war as the majority of the public and their representatives in the House and Senate are opposed to striking Syria. What is problematic for the president is that he cannot blame Republicans for standing in his way, for a significant number of Democrats in Congress are not only opposed to military action but some believe that the Obama administration has deceived the American people into supporting war. Not only are Americans turning against Obama, but the world is turning against a president who seems hellbent on taking his country to war in order to prove a point. Were the pieces of evidence clear and convincing that the Assad regime was responsible for the chemical attack, one might suspect that the Obama administration would be eager to present this information to Congress in order to lend credibility to its charges and to buttress its case for a military response against Syria.
Yet, Democratic congressman Alan Grayson of Florida is quoted by usnews.com as saying that members of Congress are "not being given any of the underlying elements of the intelligence reports." Moreover, he adds that "it is interesting that the administration consistently refers to Assad doing this and Assad doing that and Assad doing the other thing without giving the public any evidence to support the proposition that Assad has done anything." While the administration seems to be presenting a one-sided case for war, without presenting opportunities for serious deliberation about the validity of the information, those who support the president are aggressively and desperately seeking to change minds. Politico reports that, "High-level congressional sources believe there is some time — but not much — for Obama, Boehner and Pelosi to turn things around. But any vote to authorize an attack on Syria will be extraordinarily close, according to people in both parties with direct knowledge of the political dynamics in the House Republican Conference and Democratic Caucus."
Yet, the likelihood that a majority of Democrats would vote against authorizing the president's military plan seems minimal, despite the fact that many of them are leaning toward defying a president they have defended against scandals ranging from Fast and Furious to NSA spying to Benghazi to the IRS. Were Democrats to make up a sizable number of the votes against the measure, they would severely damage the president's credibility and endanger his ability to govern throughout the rest of his second term in the White House. Such a vote would truly be historic and would mark a major reversal not only in terms of America's liberal attitude toward going to war over many decades, but would reassert the necessary check on presidential power that the founding fathers envisioned (and one that Barack Obama suddenly embraced when he discovered that support for the war was caving both at home and abroad.) Former congressman Ron Paul is quoted by Politico as saying that it would mark the development of "a grand coalition of the Libertarian Republicans and the Democratic Progressives." Ultimately, the vote next week will not merely reveal whether the Congress supports the president's war initiative, but will determine whether America in the twenty-first century will continue as an empire or as a constitutional republic. If recent history gives us any clues, the Democrats will not allow the presidency of Barack Obama to be characterized by Syria and will back his decision to punish Assad.