This was the President’s press conference in Russia.
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The phrases tumble out from behind the lectern in a less than forceful fashion, some of them real howlers: “my military … limited and proportional.” Nobody will notice these malapropisms any more because all eyes are on the haggard face. Having watched President Putin — Putin for pete’s sake — take away his international marbles at the G20 summit, from people who were supposed to be his allies, President Obama is now facing the prospect of a rejection by Congress.
(Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama resisted pressure on Friday to abandon plans for air strikes against Syria and enlisted the support of 10 fellow leaders for a “strong” response to a chemical weapons attack.
Obama refused to blink after Russian President Vladimir Putin led a campaign to talk him out of military intervention at a two-day summit of the Group of Twenty (G20) developed and developing economies in St. Petersburg.
He persuaded 10 other G20 nations to join the United States in signing a statement calling for a strong international response, although it fell short of supporting military strikes, underscoring the deep disagreements that dominated the summit.
President Obama began the summit by trying to overawe the Russian president using his “dominant” Obama routine. But it sounds like Putin got what he wanted and Obama walked away with the booby prize.
The Christian Science Monitor explains what happens if Congress turns him down. “Current polls show the House opposing a strike on Syria. Obama is not saying whether he would order an attack anyway, but a loss could have long-lasting political effects at home and abroad.”
What would happen then? The answer to that question could have a profound effect on US foreign policy and relations between Congress and the executive branch for years to come.
The first and most important decision for Obama would be whether to carry through and strike the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad anyway.
White House officials have said that as a matter of inherent executive branch power Obama believes he has the right to launch an attack no matter the congressional outcome …
But there are some indications a Syria strike is unlikely without congressional approval. A New York Times story Friday quoted anonymous White House aides as saying such a unilateral course of action is “almost unthinkable,” and would surely launch a move toward impeachment in the House, which would drain and distract the administration at the least.
We can assume that John McCain won’t be voting for impeachment unless it involves “boots on the ground”. Earlier he warned President Obama there would be an impeachment if he put “boots on the ground”.
The president has bungled this beyond belief,” McCain stated. “Announced that he’s going to strike and then say, ‘No, I’m going to the American Congress.’ I can’t believe how badly he’s mishandled this issue.”
McCain repeatedly told about 150 constituents at the morning meeting that there would be no plans to send U.S. troops to retaliate for the chemical weapons attack last month near Damascus.
“I want to begin by saying to you I am unalterably opposed to having a single American boot on the ground in Syria,” McCain said. “The American people wouldn’t stand for it.”
But McCain didn’t plan on being shot down over Vietnam and having his boots on the ground either. The problem with war is it is unpredictable. No plan survives contact with the enemy and the man who would embark on it should be ready for shocks. The Obama of the press conference seemed the very picture of dejection, not too far from one shock too many. If Congress hands the President a rejection and he continues with the Syrian operation anyway, Obama may not only be precipitating a Constitutional crisis but also taking on a responsibility the Presidency as an institution cannot survive.
If you think he’s down now, just watch him get bummed out by Congress saying “no”.
And to begin a war when in all appearances at a low ebb is to court disaster. You should ideally be in possession of all your marbles at the start of something like that. But Obama has reached the sorry stage of dejection that only the most soundly defeated generals experience when they looked down at a shrunken position. He is whupped. He’s Gamelin before Rundstedt. He’s Perceval marching in his shorts in a toothbrush mustache to a grinning Yamashita in his two-toned Imperial Japanese Army uniform.
Obama’s all out of confidence. He hardly seems to believe the things he says himself, as if whistling past the graveyard, making noises to make it seem as if he had company. It seems an absurdity to forge ahead under these circumstances, to start a war — or whatever you want to call it — when Obama himself has declared an utter disinterest in its outcome, regime change, or even in taking sides.
Is this trip really necessary?
And as if to underscore his difficulty the Huffington Post now reports that Madonna says “stay out of Syria”. When you’ve lost Madonna, you’ve lost … And now the Daily Caller says “Obama hints he may abandon Syria strike.”
President Barack Obama hinted Friday that he might not strike Syria if Congress rejects his authorization request.
“I’m not itching for military action… and if there are good ideas that are worth pursuing, then I’m going to be open to them,” he told one reporter who asked if he was seeking alternatives to a missile strike.
The President is surrounded, mostly by himself.
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