President Barack Obama held a press conference Tuesday, during which he addressed the situation in Syria. Obama pointed out that he waits for facts before making decisions, “When I am making decisions about America’s national security and the potential for taking additional action in terms of chemical weapons use, I’ve got to make sure I’ve got the facts.”
Video from NBC News:
As Republican war hawks called for targeted strikes before getting all of the information (per usual), the President mentioned gathering all of the evidence first, before deciding whether or not to get involved in Syria’s civil war. He said he and his administration need to “rethink the range of options that are available to us.”
While the evidence suggests that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime used chemical weapons, the President is still exploring the options and gathering facts, “What we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don’t know how they were used, when they were used, who used them. We don’t have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened.”
What? No headlong rush to invasion based on unverified rumors? Cue Republican heads exploding.
Such questions did not trouble our Republican war hawks. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reminded the nation of why we were so glad to see Bush go when he pulled a WMD on CBS Sunday, “The next bomb that goes off in America may not have nails and glass.”
Reminding the nation that bumper sticker foreign policy isn’t any more in vogue now than when Romney tried to revive it in the 2012 election, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) told ABC’s This Week, “The president has laid down the line, and it can’t be a dotted line. It can’t be anything other than a red line.”
Bringing up the rear to reinforce why we must take action now before we have the facts was Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who might be remembered for attacking his opponent and triple amputee war veteran Max Cleland for “breaking his oath to protect and defend the constitution”. He told CBS’ Face the Nation, “For America to sit on the sidelines and do nothing is a huge mistake.”
The President pointedly pushed back against the Republican chorus of act now, think later. He schooled them, “When I am making decisions about America’s national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I’ve got to make sure I’ve got the facts. That’s what the American people would expect. And if we end up rushing to judgment without hard effective evidence, then we can find ourselves in a position where we can’t mobilize the international community.”
Did you hear that? That was a very, very obviously unfavorable comparison to how W handled WMDs and Iraq. Apparently Americans agree with President Obama and appreciate his approach, as according to a new CBS poll, 62% of Americans say the United States does not have a responsibility to intervene in the fighting in Syria. In fact, “Most Democrats, Republicans, and independents agree that the U.S. does not have a responsibility to get involved in the conflict in Syria.”
Then, just to make sure you know which administration this is, the President reiterated the importance of acting in alliance with our international allies.
There was no mission accomplished banner behind him.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.