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William C. Altreuter
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Monday, September 02, 2013

The thing about Obama turning to Congress for authorization to intervene in Syria that I haven't read anywhere is that he is doing it because he understands and believes in the Constitution. This has been a consistent theme of his Presidency, and it marks an interesting departure from the history of the office from its post WWII development.

That's not to say that in this instance it isn't a particularly canny move-- it absolutely is. There really were no good options for this situation. Doing nothing opens him up for criticism from the unlikely combination of, inter alia Congress, human rights groups and the Arab League; and doing something is bound to inflame an already bad situation. Now he's done something, and-- hilariously John McCain and Huckleberry Graham, who've been hollering for him to start the bombing-- are already backing away. If the President wants to make this happen what he should do is a step beyond what he has done to this point. Right now he is meeting with members of Congress and showing them the intelligence that the Administration believes justifies action. He should show us too.

It vexes me that the discussion of this refers to Bush's Iraq war as resulting from a "failure of intelligence".  The intelligence that Bush used was intentionally ginned up, and the only intelligence failure was that of Congress and the country in failing to recognize this. It was pretty obvious at the time, but there are still people out there who refuse to accept that. The President should be explicit about this: "Last time you were lied to. This time I am putting the cards on the table so that you can see what I am seeing, and what Congress is seeing."

If I were sitting in the President's chair I wouldn't be proposing getting into this fight, and if I were in Congress I'd vote against it. All I see is downside here. That said, I think the President is going about this the right way, and I give him credit for that.

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