Let’s count up the ways in which the Syria debate has exposed Barack Obama’s utter incompetence and lack of seriousness.
1. Failure to consult Congress. The Obama administration has built no consensus among Congress for any kind of strike. Generalissimo Pelosi wants a strike, but beyond her there is very little appetite for any U.S. action. Democrats are vocally skeptical. Republicans see a replay of Libya, just a couple of weeks before the first anniversary of the deadly attack in Benghazi. Even Dennis Kucinich is starting to make sense. There may be good reasons for striking Syria, but those reasons have not been articulated well or explained to Congress. So Congress in turn cannot explain the policy to their constituents.
2. Failure to get buy-in from the American people. Fully 80% of the American people want President Obama to obtain congressional approval before striking Syria. Only about 9% currently support a strike. But Obama’s failure to consult Congress until late in the game has probably left him too isolated to gain the approval and build up support. Now, a vote in Congress risks a replay of what happened in the UK Thursday — a down vote. That would be seen as a victory for Assad and Putin from Damascus to Tehran and well beyond, all the way to Caracas, Havana and Pyongyang.