That all occurred after the subject of responding to the use of deadly chemical weapons and intense bombs on the people of Syria by its leader had already stretched on and on, giving the Syrian government plenty of time to prepare for any spanking they would ultimately receive. This was the response to the horrible crimes by Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad that were basically ongoing and general knowledge for months.
In his oh-so-slow response to Syria, President Obama decided to build an international coalition before ever really making his case to Congress or the people. The British government said no to any military response. That left Obama with France, who would likely offer up their once beloved (he recently dissed them) Jerry Lewis and a few fighter jets as weapons.
With the United Nations saying the U.S. would in essence be committing a crime (in my book that’s one point in favor of Obama’s effort) the president finally turned his attention to Congress, an entity he left out of the process until he was reminded that even George W. Bush sought congressional approval before Iraq and the surge in Afghanistan.
Obama convinced numerous Republican senators to join his effort to punish the Syrian government for obviously heinous crimes against its own people. But his plans seemed vague and the end game seemed questionable. In fact, the draft proposal in the Senate was so watered down that McCain, shocker, pulled the rug out from under Obama.
Meanwhile, the House leadership of Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, both of whom may well be searching for new roles in the Republican House majority (if there is one) after the next election cycle, tamely emerged from a meeting with Obama declaring their support for military retribution in Syria.
What made this all seem so amateurish was the fact that every poll taken by every legitimate news agency showed the American people were opposed to Obama’s proposed military response. So the president, and later on, the Congress ran around discussing vague responses to an international event that their own constituents felt did not justify their efforts.
Why? Because the American people are no longer easily persuaded that they must serve as the lone policeman for the world. They are tired of seeing “limited” military responses turn into wars where they lose their young men and women. They resent having to fear for their lives in airports, office buildings and even sporting events because many of the people who America fights to save turn around and years later and want to bite the very hand that fed them.
Make no mistake, in the rarified air of the U.S. Senate and the cabinet room of the White House, these views are thought of as those of simpletons and the ill-informed masses.
But when the secretary of state and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff can’t even get their two stories straight in a hearing where McCain, by his own admission, lost to himself in games of video poker, you can’t really blame the public for their “simpleton” views. And, after having seen McCain’s 2008 campaign, I don’t doubt that he lost to himself playing any game.
In June, McCain’s 2008 running mate Gov. Sarah Palin argued against intervening in Syria, and I agreed with her reasoning. But more importantly, that was in June. Consider the fact that it took from June until September for the president and Congress to react to what was obvious months earlier.
Americans don’t feel the need to take military action in this particular instance. The concept that we must respond or our future words will ring hollow simply doesn’t do it for a vast majority of the public.
Most now feel that the words from the likes of Obama, McCain and Boehner already ring hollow. No amount of bombs or bullets will restore their credibility.
Matt Towery is author of the book “Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency.”