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September 6, 2013

JAMES TARANTO: Quagmire At Home: Did Obama even have a war plan for Capitol Hill?

The committee vote shows that both parties are divided. As the Washington Post notes, two of the panel’s 10 Democrats, Connecticut’s Chris Murphy and New Mexico’s Tom Udall, voted “no.” Three Republicans voted “yes.” The Senate’s most junior member, Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey (elected in June to fill the John Kerry vacancy), voted “present,” although his comments suggest he was leaning toward “no” owing to “my worry about a greater involvement in Syria.”

One is tempted to mock Markey for that old Obama gambit–“he vowed to make a decision by next week,” the Globe reports–yet one resists the temptation when one reads his rationale: “Asked why he didn’t just oppose the authorization, as did some of his colleagues who had similar concerns, he said, ‘A “no” vote would have indicated I had sufficient information on which to base the decision. Which I did not.’ ” Given the way this administration bullied through ObamaCare and other domestic legislation, it is easy to believe that concern is well-founded.

Committees are not necessarily representative of the Senate as a whole (except in terms of their partisan makeup), but if we assume for the sake of argument that this one is with respect to this question, Senate passage will be a very close-run matter. Seven “no” votes out of 17 amount to a hair over 41%, just enough to sustain a filibuster. Add in Markey to make it eight votes of 18, and you’re at 44%.

And that’s in the chamber the president’s party controls. . . .

Republicans also have reason to suspect that Obama’s decision to request congressional approval was an effort to put them on the spot–and his ludicrous denial yesterday that he “set a red line” or that his credibility is at stake reinforces that view.

The fierce watchdogs of the press, confronted with this brazen falsehood, show themselves once again to be Obama’s pet hamsters. Instead of giving a “pants on fire” rating, PolitiFact.com’s Jon Greenberg claims Obama was “reframing comments rather than denying them.” Greenberg can’t even say the statement is half true, so he withholds a rating altogether. Peter Baker of the New York Times has his own euphemisms, writing that Obama was “citing longstanding international norms” and “trying to break out of his isolation.” The funniest dodges come from Shawna Thomas of NBC News, who on Twitter calls Obama’s whopper “a definite change in tone” and an attempt “to unilaterally widen the circle of responsibility.”

That last one is priceless. Next time someone accuses you of trying to weasel out of a commitment, say you’re just trying to widen the circle of responsibility.

The press will abandon Obama last. Their loyalty is their honor.