In the next 10 days or so we will find out if Mr Obama will get the chance to recapture his presidential mojo. That – and the fact that he would share the fallout with Congress for whatever complications a Syria strike would present – is the best that can be said for a “Yes” vote. A “No” would irretrievably weaken Mr Obama both at home and abroad. It would qualify as one of the costliest gambles in US presidential history.
How exactly did Mr Obama reach this point? It is a question that befuddles even those who know the president well. No one doubts Mr Obama has always been sincere in his desire to avoid military engagement with Syria. As a young politician from Illinois, he owed much of his meteoric rise to the fact that he opposed “dumb” wars, starting with Iraq. His signature foreign policy since coming to office has been to end America’s wars in the Muslim world and rebalance the country towards Asia.
But as a junior Senator able to vote “present” at will, Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom never had the opportunity for his ego to trip over his big mouth. Everything since his off-the-cuff Red Line statement of last year has unfolded with about as much spontaneity as a Greek tragedy or an English farce — and with the train-wreck appeal of the two combined.