On Friday when John Kerry made an impassioned case for a perfectly limited, finely calibrated, brilliantly tuned military action against Syria, I thought such action was imminent. I bet that’s what John Kerry thought too. The White House has even let out word to that effect to friendly reporters.
Chuck Todd reports: “A stroll around the White House grounds with his top adviser on Friday evening changed President Barack Obama’s mind about getting Congress to sign off on a military strike in Syria, senior White House officials told NBC News.” Bill Plante reports to the same effect, as do Julie Pace and Adam Entous and Carol Lee.
Todd adds: “Obama’s National Security Council had believed since last weekend that requiring a vote was not even on the table and that “consultation” in the form of congressional briefings and behind-the-scenes conversation was all that would be needed before a strike.”
Why the change of heart? Plante offers this explanation, and it sounds credible to me: “His reasoning, according to officials who were in the room [when Obama explained his change of heart to his advisers in the Oval Office on Friday night]? He wants members on the record, rather than simply criticizing from outside whatever action he takes.” Entous and Lee offer the same explanation.
We know Obama is a sensitive kind of guy. We know he doesn’t like criticism. We know he’s not a magnanimous man, but he’s willing to share with others in one respect. Harry Truman’s famous buck? Obama wants to make sure it doesn’t stop with him. How utterly pathetic.
UPDATE: A reader writes:
I think Congress should vote on the Syria issue. And it would be appropriate to see them all voter “Present.”
And another reader forwards the illustration for this post that I have inserted above.