The argument for attacking Syria to strengthen a “norm” may be weaker than the argument for Congress halting the attack to strengthen constitutional balance. The outcome of the vote on attacking Syria may be less important than the fact of the vote. Through the physics of our Madisonian politics — one institution’s action producing another’s reaction — the nation has reached a constitutional moment.
Every policy choice occurs in a context conditioned by other choices. Barack Obama’s Syrian choice comes after multiple executive excesses that have provoked Congress to react against its marginalization, a product of its supine passivity regarding Mr. Obama’s unilateral lawmaking.
All Newt Gingrich did after assuming power opposite a Democrat president was lock horns with Bill Clinton. It was exhausting, and eventually the nation tired of it and of Newt. John Boehner came in the same way, at the end of two years of Democrat overreach in the first term of a new President. But he’s been more than happy to let the executive branch do pretty much whatever, and even now his stance against a Syria campaign is in the mode of passive-aggression — the same as Nancy Pelosi.
A little more Newt in his spine wouldn’t be a bad thing.