Righteous indignation is not a sufficient reason to engage the military in any sort of operation. Yet, for now, that is all we hear from senior officials in the administration as well as the Congress.
Besides the most recent attack that resulted in the death of about 1,000 people, reports have also recently surfaced that chemical weapons may have been used as recently as a few weeks ago. The rebels do not come to the process with clean hands either. Why the rush to “do something” now?
Syria’s alleged crossing of the Obama Administration’s red line, could trip a series of political hot buttons that will force Republicans to cross a political rubicon. Whether you like it or not, it will begin to set the stage for the 2014 mid-term elections. This timing question is one of the primary reasons I remain very skeptical of the Obama team’s new-found focus to do something, anything, on the Syria matter.
There are already reports surfacing that Republicans are considering giving way on raising debt ceiling. If they do so, out goes the long-term focus on restoring some semblance of fiscal discipline in our ranks. The GOP must resist every urge to raise the debt ceiling. Try to get the Saudis or Gulf countries to pay for the Syria tactical strike.
Then there is the immigration boogeyman. Supposedly, this is a priority issue for the Obama team and there are some within the GOP ranks that want to pass some legislation to send to the President. Why?
Republican consultants erroneously think immigration reform will curry favor with future American citizens of Hispanic ancestry. Whether a law is signed or not, the Democrats win. Identity politics does not work. Let it go. Focus on issues and solidify the base.
As for the healthcare debate, if you thought repeal or defunding of socialized medicine was difficult prior to the Syria matter, it just became a little more complicated. The Benghazi investigation? It is entering a critical stage and the Obama team is going to try to muzzle the process.
Republicans have a unique opportunity this fall to outshine the mediocre Democratic caucus and politically rudderless White House. The President has a lot of work to do to rustle up support among Democrats for the proposed Syria operation. There are already signs that this will not be easy. Let him stew in that pot. Keep your cards close and make the administration beg for every vote conditioned on something the GOP needs to move an agenda the best it can.
GOP leaders should try as best they can to control the conference so that no Republican expresses any support whatsoever for a Syria operation. They should also hold the line on the debt ceiling and immigration, as well as increase pressure on exposing what really happened in Libya that resulted in the death of four Americans, including the Ambassador.
“Welcome back” season offers each political party a great opportunity to distinguish and lead. Can Republicans do this? We will have an idea soon enough. The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a first round Syria hearings tomorrow. When and if you watch the hearings, keep in mind that this latest Syria incident is but a few sentences in a very large book that still has many chapters to add.