Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Dear Congress: Welcome To Pottery Barn

 

Let’s get a caveat out of the way: Basher Assad is a truly bad man, a murderous thug, has terrible allies, and should be hanging by the neck from a lightpole in Damascus. Nor am I some isolationist or hesitant about executive action in foreign affairs. This isn’t about whether we should act against Syria, but about the politics of Barack Obama’s utterly failed policy and his attempt to force the GOP to own the debacle he created.

Really, Congress?

Are you really taking this sucker bet?

Really?

You’re willing to bail out President Barack Obama after he’s managed to set the Middle East on fire?

You’re going to give Obama cover after two years of Syrian civil war, a growing threat to Israel, a nuclear Iran closer than ever, and Egypt and Libya in chaos…all of which has been met with a shrug and “at this point, what difference does it make” nonchalance?

As in practically everything but campaigning, Barack Obama’s zone of competence in foreign policy is so far in the rearview mirror it’s almost comical…and now he wants the GOP to save him from himself.

He’s being played by sand-trap dictators, Al Qaeda’s bankers, and Russian bad boys like some rube just fallen off the pumpkin truck…but please, go ahead and join him.

By all means, become a stakeholder in an ill-planned Administration policy with almost no possible good outcomes for the United States.

While you’re at it, reward Obama and the Democrats’ brazen, utterly shameless hypocrisy over war and Presidential power as if the last 10 years didn’t happen.

You’re going to get the stink of his failures and incompetence all over you? Fabulous. Apparently, they don’t call us the stupid party for nothing.

His usual media top-cover seems shaky, his polling is soft, and his own caucus is muttering in discontent. This time, the man with the premature Peace Prize based on sanctimonious, prissy speeches is faced with the brutal realities of his failed policies.

Only the House and Senate GOP can save him.

So by all means, throw the man who views you with contempt and has tirelessly sought your political destruction a life preserver.

What could go wrong? Sure, take ownership of his disastrous sorta-strategy and the coming debacle of non-time-sensitive limited-strike, regime-preserving, face-saving semi-kinetic actions. By going Full LBJ (and you never go Full LBJ) and micromanaging the time and extent of strikes, Obama has bounded his options with failure on one side and symbolic action on the other. This plan won’t deter bad guys. It won’t end Assad. A military friend once said, “If you can’t describe the mission in one sentence, it’s not a mission…it’s a clusterf*ck waiting to happen.”

Since Saturday, have you heard anything even close to a viable mission or a goal, much less a strategy? Today’s shambolic performance by John Kerry muddied the water further. Either we’re going to strike Assad, drive him from power, and send a message echoing down the corridors of history or send him a fruit basket and a sternly worded demarche. Hard to tell.

But the GOP Leadership is, apparently, going to push the caucus to play along with whatever vague crayon-on-napkin Syria plan the White House vomits out. Brilliant.

First though, allow me to acquaint you with my friend, the Nigerian prince, and then we’ll talk about your chance to get in on the ground floor of a bridge investment in New York City.

You think this is about Syria. It’s not. You think this is about Basher Assad gassing his own people. It’s not. Obama’s ego, image, power and legacy motivated this change. The GOP is acting like it didn’t. Obama and his team made this political. The GOP is acting like it’s not.

The transparent political calculation behind it all is so sickening and clumsy: Obama’s people gave away the game early, with his advocates immediately rushing to Twitter Saturday afternoon to spin credulous reporters by framing the Syria question as a political loser for the GOP. It was a warning of bad faith, promptly ignored.

The campaigns on which Barack Obama works the hardest are always about him: that’s the leverage the GOP has, and is blowing. Even if Members want a Syria attack, they should make Obama pay, and pay dearly.

My friends in Congress should realize this: the minute you vote for Obama’s Syrian adventure, you own it. Thomas Friedman’s famous dictum has been used against us for a decade. I’m sure you remember the Pottery Barn Rule: if you break it, you bought it.

They’ve already warned you. They’ve already said they’ll use it against you. No matter what goes wrong with the Syria plan, the media will blame you and let Obama slide. They’re really, really good at this game…and honestly…you’re not.

Even if you deeply believe immediate military action in Syria is necessary, you should make Obama pay for it. He needs this cover from you, and he needs it desperately. He’ll appeal to your egos and your patriotism, but he’s the one who needs you. You’ve never had more power. Use it.

Make him climb down off his very, very high horse and sell his Syria plan, direct from the Oval Office. Make him lay out the case with the intelligence informing his strategy. Make him use his considerable campaign skills to move the American people, even if it means burning through his remaining political capital. Make him lay out a plan that isn’t some symbolic wrist slap, and that addresses Iran, Al Qaeda, and Israel’s security. Make him explain how this time it’s different than the disasters he helped create in Libya and Egypt.

When it comes to responsibility for the mess in the Pottery Barn of Syria, he broke it…he bought it. Now it’s up to Congress to make him pay for it.

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  1. Scott Abel Inactive

    YOU’VE GOT THE FRENCH ON YOUR SIDE THIS TIME!

    What could possibly go wrong?

    hollande.jpg

    • #1
    • September 4, 2013, at 1:48 AM PDT
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  2. Marion Evans Inactive

    If Obama hadn’t gone to Congress, the same people would bitch that he is an imperial president.

    • #2
    • September 4, 2013, at 2:14 AM PDT
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  3. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    Democrats, including the former Secretary of Benghazi, voted for the Iraq war. Lots of them voted for it.

    They never owned it. They were able to distance themselves from their own votes, easily. A compliant and supportive press, a pop culture that lovingly paints all Republicans as either greedy or war-mongering (or both), and a largely inattentive populace makes it pretty easy to get away with just about anything.

    If you’re a Democrat. If you’re a Republican, even if you vote no, the outcome will be your fault. And even Sissy-Fella-In-Chief knows that the outcomes in Syria that he’s painted himself into are all going to be negative outcomes, so he’s seeking targets to take some heat for him. Boehner is shoving people out of the way so he can be first in line to take an arrow to the chest for Dear Leader.

    Funny how WMDs, some of which in Syria are likely to have come from Iraq, are now the justification for force that Democrats killed Bush over even when Saddam had demonstrably used them against his own people. 

    But now it’s OK to be outraged. Thanks, Democrats!

    • #3
    • September 4, 2013, at 4:04 AM PDT
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  4. Matthew Gilley Inactive

    This is where I am, too. Obama’s mouth keeps writing checks that his [expletive] can’t cash. Why should Congress jump to put more money in his account?

    • #4
    • September 4, 2013, at 4:10 AM PDT
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  5. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Haven’t seen you around Ricochet much lately, Rick. In like a lion, eh?

    I think the way to make him pay is to make him own it. Several of us around here have been saying Republicans should vote, “present.” Neither oppose nor support the action, because, frankly, it’s just hubris for anyone to believe he has the answer here.

    We not only don’t have a clue which of the Syrian players should come out on top, we’ve got a deck stacked with Iranian, Chinese, and Russian wildcards (who are not going to be intimidated or impressed by a few tomahawks Allison. They already know this president is weak). 

    Instead, Republicans are Elmer Fudd earnest. They take their role in this comedrama werry werry sewiously. They’re either going to save American lives/money/reputation by nonintervention (Rand Paul), or they’re going to save American lives/money/reputation by intervention (Boehner/McCain/Graham).

    Meanwhile, President Bugs is playing them and has twisted their shotgun barrels such that they’ll end up shooting themselves.

    Just vote “pwesent,” fellas. Pwease.

    • #5
    • September 4, 2013, at 5:55 AM PDT
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  6. DrewInWisconsin, Ham-Fisted Bu… Coolidge
    Marion Evans: If Obama hadn’t gone to Congress, the same people would bitch that he is an imperial president.

    Marion, just because we think he needs to consult Congress doesn’t mean we think Congress should give him their yea votes. You understand that, right?

    • #6
    • September 4, 2013, at 6:20 AM PDT
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  7. BrentB67 Inactive

    I am having a hard time thinking of a bigger party line republican strategist/consultant than Rick Wilson on this site and all of a sudden it is cool to bash republicans.

    There is a lot of flowing prose in the article, so what are republicans supposed to do?

    Make him climb down off his very, very high horse and sell his Syria plan, direct from the Oval Office. Make him lay out the case with the intelligence informing his strategy. Make him use his considerable campaign skills to move the American people, even if it means burning through his remaining political capital. Make him lay out a plan that isn’t some symbolic wrist slap, and that addresses Iran, Al Qaeda and Israel’s security. Make him explain how this time it’s different than the disasters he helped create in Libya and Egypt.

    And then what? Vote yes? My guess is that is the next article coming.

    • #7
    • September 4, 2013, at 6:44 AM PDT
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  8. Morley Stevenson Member
    Morley Stevenson Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It is an matter of trust – in two senses. Obama and his team of buffoons manage to blend ineptitude with malice. You can’t trust them to do a job right because they don’t seem to have the ability, and even if they did have it there is no assurance that they would not use it to create mischief. They simply can’t be trusted, and when the whole crack-pot scheme blows up a share of ownership will expose the GOP to a disproportionate share of vilification by the media, who are no more to be trusted than Obama himself.

    Republican leadership did a good job of refusing to share ownership of Obamacare. This Middle Eastern mess offers another opportunity to exercise similar leadership. Republicans will be trashed for being who they are no matter what action is taken. There is no need to be complicit in disaster as well.

    • #8
    • September 4, 2013, at 7:28 AM PDT
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  9. Profile Photo Member

    Rick, if that “never go Full LBJ” line ties back to Tropic Thunder and Sgt. Osiris’ advice on Tug Speedman’s “Simple Jack” performance, it was brilliant.

    • #9
    • September 4, 2013, at 8:00 AM PDT
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  10. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    hear hear…

    • #10
    • September 4, 2013, at 8:02 AM PDT
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  11. Pencilvania Inactive

    Here’s a thought: bomb Assad and Obamacare.

    • #11
    • September 4, 2013, at 8:13 AM PDT
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  12. Allison Inactive

    Actually, he broke it, but we, the American people will pay for it. Not in Syria, but in the blood of the terrible things to come.

    If Congress doesn’t authorize, it is effectively a vote of no-confidence, and the president’s government should fall. Except we don’t have a parliamentary system. So it won’t fall, but he will be as lame as if both legs were broken. Unless you think he would step down or be impeached–and that is not going to happen.

    He will then be so weak that every enemy of the US will move against us and our allies. They will threaten our armed forces as they move into blue-water navies. They will threaten our borders with terrorists. They will move against allies, invading territory.

    And the world could all blow up.

    We have no choice but to prop him up as best as possible if he cannot be removed from office and replaced with someone better. The two minutes schadenfreude won’t last long enough to be worth the years of misery to come.

    • #12
    • September 4, 2013, at 8:14 AM PDT
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  13. Mike H Coolidge

    Republicans have given up. They are too afraid to take a stand because they know they aren’t good enough to withstand even standard Democrat/media backlash. The Democrats don’t fight fair, but they fight to win, and they are really really good at it. If our current crop is as inept as they appear, it’s time to clean house.

    • #13
    • September 4, 2013, at 8:16 AM PDT
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  14. johnlisker Inactive

    How about attach repeal of Obamacare to the use of force authorization?

    • #14
    • September 4, 2013, at 8:17 AM PDT
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  15. Allison Inactive

    But what’s worse is not that the GOP shouldn’t make him explain, it’s that the GOP lacks anyone who can articulate what strength looks like, and none of them can explain how looking beyond Syria this affects our national interests–or even what they are. They are only slightly better than he is.

    • #15
    • September 4, 2013, at 8:17 AM PDT
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  16. Profile Photo Member

    I agree.

    • #16
    • September 4, 2013, at 8:19 AM PDT
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  17. Mike H Coolidge
    Allison: 

    He will then be so weak that every enemy of the US will move against us and our allies. They will threaten our armed forces as they move into blue-water navies. They will threaten our borders with terrorists. They will move against allies, invading territory.

    And the world could all blow up.

    We have no choice but to prop him up as best as possible if he cannot be removed from office and replaced with someone better. The two minutes schadenfreude won’t last long enough to be worth the years of misery to come.

    Oh, give me a freaking break. You think our place in the world is really this frail? What hysterical nonsense. We must capitulate to Obama, or else the whole world is doomed! Lets just give up the two-party pretence right now if Democrats can get what they need so easily.

    • #17
    • September 4, 2013, at 8:22 AM PDT
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  18. Allison Inactive

    Mike,

    http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2013/09/03/the-flight-of-the-arrow/

    “No sooner had Russia announced the sailing of the SSV-201 intelligence ship Priazovye from Sevastopol towards the Eastern Med “on Sunday evening” than Israel claimed “it carried out a ‘joint’ US missile launch in the Mediterranean, having earlier claimed ignorance.”… The alleged “missile” — the Rafael Sparrow — is a target designed to simulate the trajectories of ballistic missiles Israel might face in an actual war…It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the test was scheduled to finish before the Priazovye could arrive on the scene and pick up telemetry and data. The ship, a Vishnya-class elint ship, reports to the Russian brass.”

    How about a month ago, re: senkaku islands:

    http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2013/07/29/the-eastern-world/#more-30471

    China launched its revamped coast guard last week and immediately sent four ships..to patrol waters off disputed islands in the nearby East China Sea.”

    The message was clear: China planned to use the new unified paramilitary vessels to keep pressure on Japan over the sovereignty of the tiny islands, an issue that has riled relations between the two countries.

    Fragile.

    • #18
    • September 4, 2013, at 8:55 AM PDT
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  19. Mike H Coolidge

    Allison,

    Then by all means, lets let Obama get what he wants, because that’s certainly going to guarantee a better president in the future. Just like all the calculation worked out for us in the last election.

    How about we try doing what’s right for a change instead of killing people and having the likely effect of extending the killing already underway. No, we can’t risk maybe, possibly hurting the US strategic standpoint when all we’re going to do is cause the death of more non-Americans. 

    • #19
    • September 4, 2013, at 9:04 AM PDT
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  20. Allison Inactive

    The better argument against is that we simply don’t have the resources:

    http://theoptimisticconservative.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/rock-hard-place-syria/

    It is no longer necessary to predict that failure to make good on his promise about a “red line” will be fatal to American credibility. The die is cast. We have reached the limit of fate’s tolerance for indecision, and the verdict is in: Obama, and the West, couldn’t handle this one.

    But hold that thought for a moment – call it the rock in this scenario – and let us consider the hard place, which has its own argument to make. Those who have continued to press for a military response in Syria seem not to understand that the situation of the U.S. military is severely compromised, due to the very real effects of not spending on readiness. We literally do not have the forces available to expand on any limited strikes we might undertake. It is invalid to discuss the proposition as if we do…”

    Again the issue is a very fragile world. We should make our decision re: Syria not about Obama, but what is safest for the US in the future.

    • #20
    • September 4, 2013, at 9:08 AM PDT
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  21. Marion Evans Inactive

    Of course, but the tenor of the article was that Obama’s motives in going to Congress were malicious, ie to make the GOP look bad. So he is seen either as imperial or as malicious. The author makes a number of fiery statements about Obama’s intent. But it is mostly speculation cast to fit an evident intense dislike for the person. This is not about personalities (even if the charges are true). Focus on the issues!

    DrewInWisconsin
    Marion Evans: If Obama hadn’t gone to Congress, the same people would bitch that he is an imperial president.

    Marion, just because we think he needs to consult Congress doesn’t mean we think Congress should give him their yea votes. You understand that, right? · 2 hours ago

    Edited 2 hours ago

    • #21
    • September 4, 2013, at 9:12 AM PDT
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  22. Allison Inactive

    when all we’re going to do is cause the death of more non-Americans. 

    Our govt has a duty to Americans first and foremost. We as citizens have a duty to our citizens first as well. Terrible things will happen, some which can’t be stopped. But determining which is safest in the bigger picture for the US and her citizens should be paramount.

    The bit about the better president–non-sequitur to me. We have no one in the GOP, except maybe Tom Cotton, articulating our national interests. Gov. Romney for one refused to do so forcefully, or assumed they were known and agreed upon. They aren’t. Are the presumed GOP presidential candidates even capable of articulating them? Do they comprehend the concept? Or do they just lack the courage to do so? Saying Syria isn’t in our interests may be true, but it isn’t saying what IS. 

    • #22
    • September 4, 2013, at 9:16 AM PDT
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  23. Melanie Graham Contributor

    Bra-VO.

    • #23
    • September 4, 2013, at 9:17 AM PDT
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  24. Profile Photo Member

    For me a real problem is lack of understanding (or admitting) what Obama and the Left’s underlying agenda is. Syria is a symptom of the bigger enemy and all decisions should be made with this in mind.

    All of this ‘inexperience and incompetence’ sure progresses progressivism, in other words, and while we think it was big mistakes that blew up the middle east perhaps it just part of their ‘change recipe’. What will these people finally have to do, anyway?
    • #24
    • September 4, 2013, at 9:27 AM PDT
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  25. George Savage Contributor

    Isn’t there anyone who can challenge John Boehner? Seriously. To paraphrase Abba Eban, under Boehner the Republicans never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

    • #25
    • September 4, 2013, at 9:36 AM PDT
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  26. Del Mar Dave Member
    Del Mar Dave Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    OH…how you have cut to the chase. Big kudos!!!

    • #26
    • September 4, 2013, at 9:51 AM PDT
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  27. KC Mulville Inactive

    Well, look on the bright side.

    Um …

    • #27
    • September 4, 2013, at 9:53 AM PDT
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  28. Sweezle Member

    Marion Evans – The President wants political cover from Congress. How did you conclude this article said it was “malicious” on his part? 

    I think it was a smart political move on the administrations part but one that Congress or at least Republicans in the House & Senate should vote “no” on.

    • #28
    • September 4, 2013, at 10:11 AM PDT
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  29. CuriousKevmo Member
    Mike H: How about we try doing what’s right for a change instead of killing people and having the likely effect of extending the killing already underway. No, we can’t risk maybe, possibly hurting the US strategic standpoint when all we’re going to do is cause the death of more non-Americans. · 12 hours ago

    Hear, hear. If we do bomb Syria, I expect that the immediate result (at a minimum) will be missiles launched against Israel. From there all bets are off, retaliations, retaliations to the retaliations etc. At the absolute minimum it’s likely that Israelis will die as a result of us backing Obama’s ridiculous rhetoric.

    More likely, some Israelis, Syrians, Iranians and yes Americans will die as a result of this move.

    • #29
    • September 4, 2013, at 10:17 AM PDT
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  30. Commodore BTC Inactive
    George Savage: Isn’t there anyone who can challenge John Boehner? Seriously. To paraphrase Abba Eban, under Boehner the Republicans never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. · 12 hours ago

    If Boehner votes in favor of Syria intervention, there needs to be a concerted effort by Tea Party groups and talk radio to find and promote a viable primary challenger.

    It’s clear the ruling class does not fear public opinion. The only way to change their behavior is to demonstrate they can and will be thrown out of office if they ignore the will of the people.

    The time has come for social media to demonstrate it can create a groundswell of opposition to intrenched incumbents that was not possible before.

    • #30
    • September 4, 2013, at 11:07 AM PDT
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