More information becomes available about Obama’s strategy for dealing with ISIS. In essence, he wants money.
Approving the fund could allow the White House and congressional leaders to escape a tougher vote on authorizing or funding military action before the midterm elections but still achieve the “buy in” the president has said he wants from Congress.
At the same time, the request risks opening the White House up to attacks that it is asking for a blank check from Congress to carry out military action. It’s also unclear whether the counterterrorism proposal would be enough for the administration to decimate ISIS.
This is shaping up to be a shameful exercise on the part of all concerned. Obama, whose prevarications and misjudgments allowed the formation and metastasis of ISIS, has no real intention of taking any action that has a reasonable prospect of eradicating this regional threat. Instead of an actual plan or even the acknowledgement that a plan would be good to have we get gibberish about “degrade and destroy” and “decimate.”
From the GOP side of the aisle, there seems to be little stomach for actually taking a stand.
A year after opposition in Congress thwarted plans for missile strikes in Syria, the White House is again putting the issue of military force in the Middle East before a skeptical Congress and a war-weary public.
Mr. Obama has not indicated yet whether he will seek congressional authorization, though he said Saturday he would like “buy-in” for a broader campaign, which the White House so far has not defined.
Democratic leaders in the Senate and Republican leaders in the House want to avoid a public vote to authorize force, fearing the unknown political consequences eight weeks before the midterm elections on Nov. 4.
“A lot of people would like to stay on the sideline and say, ‘Just bomb the place and tell us about it later,’ ” said Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, who supports having an authorization vote. “It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.”
This is echoed by the LA Times:
While members of Congress are eager to debate the White House’s strategy against the militant group Islamic State, most are loathe to put their names to a vote — especially weeks before a very tight midterm election that will determine which party controls Congress.
After conversations over the last week, “the White House is aware there really is no appetite for a vote,” said one senior congressional aide, who was not authorized to to discuss the deliberations.
A protracted battle is far from what many Americans say they want. Even if the president decides to seek congressional approval for a robust military campaign, it is not clear that reluctant lawmakers would give it.
“Here’s the dilemma: What if he comes over here and you can’t pass it?” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) “That’d be a disaster. And what if you put so many conditions on it that it makes any military operation ineffective? That’s what I worry about.”
Most of this is balderdash. Obama may be smarting over the lack of support his Syrian adventure received but time has shown us that the public sentiment opposing him was well-founded. It is the US assisted and encouraged revolt in Syria that has led to the rapid growth of ISIS. But all polls show that the American public is much more aware of the danger presented by an Islamic terrorist state in the Middle East than the administration.
What is amazing is that the GOP opinion represents a level of abject stupidity that is really hard to imagine. After attempting to ram an utterly disastrous amnesty bill down our throats while claiming it would be great for the GOP in the 2014 mid-terms, the GOP now has a gift horse presented to it — give Obama a vote affirming his authority in dealing with ISIS — and they decline. This is not only good policy (insisting that the president get Congressional approval before engaging in a multi-year air campaign in Iraq and Syria) but good politics (the GOP can pass a clean resolution and show the moderates the GOP is always slavering after that our opposition to Obama is not merely reflexive or racist). Nothing in the vote prevents the GOP from criticizing the execution of the operation or holding oversight hearings.
Maybe we’ll all be surprised tomorrow night. Maybe Obama will have a great plan for eradicating ISIS. Maybe the GOP will show some leadership. But right now my bet is against either of those events coming to fruition.