Democratic congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) is urging President Obama to withdraw his request for authorization to strike Syria until other options can be explored.
Transcript from CNN:
CROWLEY: Still, it seems — and all of you expressed this — this concern, but it seems like there is — there is one issue and then there is the other.
Are you willing to vote against the president if he won’t agree to somehow rejuvenate military by dealing with the budget cuts?
BLACKBURN: Well, and, Candy, it’s the leadership. It is a lack of leadership on the president’s part.
In my district Friday, 120 — 1,020 contacts into our district, only three were for action in Syria. The president has not made his case. He has not defined the mission. And there is not the support from the American people…
CROWLEY: But could he make his case…
BLACKBURN: — for this.
CROWLEY: — for the three of you — could he make his…
CROWLEY: — is there something he could say?
MCGOVERN: (INAUDIBLE) to me, this is not about rejuvenating the military. I want to fix sequestration, too.
I mean the — the president is whether or not what he’s proposing is the right thing to do, whether it’s the effective thing to do. And I just don’t believe that’s that — that’s the case.
You know, there have to be other alternatives out there.
BLACKBURN: And the long-term ramifications…
BLACKBURN: — of something.
CROWLEY: So let me ask…
MCKEON: I — I don’t look at it as a vote against the president. I look at it as a vote for our men and women in uniform, who keep being asked to do more with less.
MCGOVERN: If I were the president, I would withdraw my request for authorization of this particular point. I don’t believe the support is there in Congress. People view war as a last resort. And I don’t think people think that we’re at that point. So I would – I would step back a little bit. We have other issues we have to deal with in Congress domestic and international. But I think at this point if you asked for my advice, I would say withdraw authorization at this point.
I think that withdrawing the request for authorization would be more damaging to President Obama than holding the vote and letting the chips fall where they may. Obama would look much worse if he changed his mind at the last second, and told Congress not to vote on an authorization. A much better route would be to hold off the vote in Congress until the UN report is completed, but if this isn’t an option, let’s vote and move on.
Withdrawing the authorization would be a terrible idea for the president. It would be great for members of Congress, because it would get them off the hook. They wouldn’t have to go on record. If Obama withdrew the request, Congress might be able to avoid being held accountable either way.
The president has set up this vote in such a way that he has little to lose. If Congress votes no, he can announce that the American people have spoken and move on. If Congress votes yes, he can announce that he has the full backing of a unified America.
The president has much more at stake in the disputes over funding the government and the debt ceiling than he has on Syria. Withdrawing the request on Syria is the worst option politically, which is why President Obama shouldn’t give Rep. McGovern’s suggestion serious consideration.