Kerry sends mixed messages as amatuer hour continues...
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace grills John Kerry about Syria
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This morning, John Kerry appeared on Fox News Sunday, where he was absolutely grilled by host Chris Wallace. Central to the questioning was President Obama’s sudden realization that the Constitution exists, and that it would seem to require congressional approval before the United States can start lobbing missiles into other nations. The President has said that - when Congress reconvenes on September 9th - he’ll ask for that permission.
However, Kerry claims that Obama doesn’t require that authorization, and that he may still act unilaterally before it’s given. So apparently, Obama recognizes the letter of the law, but he’s reserving the right to ignore it.
“If the Assad regime were to be foolish enough to attack yet again in the meantime, of course the President of the United States knows he has the power to do this, and I assume he would move very, very rapidly,” Kerry said. “But he feels were are stronger in getting the United States as a whole to gel around this policy - to understand it better - and to know what the strategy is and why the United States needs to do this.”
Wallace quoted the widespread belief that the delay means Obama has flinched, and asked Kerry “Haven’t you handed Syria and Iran at least a temporary victory?”
As you would expect, Kerry strongly disagreed. This isn’t “backing down.” It’s a bold strategy designed to give our non-existent friends and allies more time to “coordinate.”
“It will allow us to do even more coordinating with our friends and allies, to do more planning, and frankly be far more effective. I think this is a smart decision by the President, a courageous decision. He is not trying to create an imperial presidency; he’s trying to respect the process by which we are strongest in this country.”
Following the law is now a “courageous decision?” OK….
Asked what will happen if Congress just says “no,” Kerry dismissed the idea.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said. “I can’t contemplate that the Congress would turn its back on all that responsibility, and grant impunity to a ruthless dictator to continue to gas his people.”
The bottom line here is that if President Obama could have generated a strong international coalition, he would have. Had that happened, there’s no way he’d be wasting time with Congress. He knows there’s precious little support for Syrian intervention - either at home or abroad - and as a result he’s looking to drum up some kind of mandate inside the Washington D.C. beltway.
The administration is trying desperately to have it both ways ...and it’s not working.