Republicans Weasel Out of Syria Debate By Calling Obama Incompetent


Republicans are desperate to avoid taking responsibility for their Syria votes. They know they have to give the President the votes if they want to use the expanded powers of the presidency when they have it next, and that’s why leadership supports it, but Republican members can’t find it in themselves to give Obama anything.

So House Republicans are trying to force Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to get the votes since they can’t. Again.

A House Democratic leadership aide told Roll Call that they aren’t taking responsibility for Boeher’s job. “The more interesting question is, can Boehner convince (Republicans) to vote on the substance, not against the president? At the end of the day, it will be the Republican leadership’s responsibility to get the votes because they are in the majority.”

No, Boehner can’t get Republicans to be serious even though he backs authorizing the Syria strikes, and yes, Republicans are going to blame their failure on the President. As cover for their failure, Republicans devised the ad hominem that Obama is incompetent and they can’t trust him. Yes, it’s not that Republicans dispute that Assad used chemical weapons on his own people, it’s that Obama can’t be trusted.

Bryon York at the Washington Examiner talked to Congressional Republicans to get a sense of which direction they were leaning, and it seems that they are looking for cover. No big shocker there — the Republicans are once again unable to govern seriously due to their Obama Opposition Disorder and their inner party destruction.

York, who is in with the Congressional Republicans, lists five reasons why Republicans tell him they have a “compelling” case against authorizing Syria. Since the other four were inconsistent with the Republican party’s own values (arguing against intervention just because and arguing against the expanded powers of the executive office), the central theme seems to be that Obama is incompetent and they can’t trust him with warmaking powers:

The lack of confidence in Barack Obama. There’s no doubt the president has been extremely reluctant to take action in Syria. He also showed terrible judgment by painting himself into a corner with his 2012 “red line” comments on chemical weapons. For those reasons, and more, some Republicans will argue that they simply cannot entrust special warmaking powers to a president who they believe is not competent to use them.

So their premise is that they can’t trust the special, legal warmaking powers of the presidency to Obama. In other words, their premise is that Obama is not really the president.

Obama asked Congress for input on Syria but he didn’t have to, legally. And that is why Peter King and other Republicans are freaking out, because when Republicans make the argument that they can’t “trust” the executive office with the power to make limited strikes, they are setting a precedent for the next Republican president. Republicans have worked very hard to expand the powers of the presidency, especially when it comes to war.

Obama is not “competent”? Seriously? This from the party that defunded Libya just to spite Obama, and then spent a year screaming about Libya. This from the party that lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction, lied about Iraq, bungled Iraq, never had an exit strategy, never found Osama bin Laden after telling us that finding him was their number one priority, managed to generate hatred of this country around the globe….

This party is saying that the man who got Osama bin Laden is incompetent. Republicans, who invented the “red line” and hounded Obama over “red lines” (Republicans tend to equate “strength” with rhetoric like “red lines”) are now going to claim that by saying he had a “red line”, he showed he had horrible judgement. Is that the same red line Paul Ryan agreed with during the campaign? Yikes. They’re tripping all over themselves to avoid responsibility.

Meanwhile Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor dodged a classified briefing on Syria after Boehner issued a flaccid announcement of said briefing, alerting his members that hey, if they miss this one, there will be plenty more. Gee, they are only working nine days this month, but chillax people. No rush.

It’s just a matter so serious that they can’t trust Obama with it. So serious that they can’t be bothered to show up for the classified briefing. So serious that won’t come back early from a vacation.

Republicans are going to dodge a very serious issue by pointing their fingers and crying, “Obama is incompetent!” Oh well, no one expected any better from them. Speaker Boehner might be wishing that he had been overthrown at the start of this session.

Update: I’m told Bill Kristol is pushing the “Obama is incompetent so don’t look at us” meme on MSNBC now. Expect plenty more where that came from.

Sarah Jones

Copyright PoliticusUSA LLC 2008-2023