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The Real Reason Congress Isn’t Voting on Syria

by Keith Koffler on August 30, 2013, 10:45 am

I’ve been around Washington for a long time. It’s a plus and a minus. It lets me give you some insight into what’s going on around here, but it forces me to wage a battle not to become part of the groupthink. It’s not that difficult really – in many ways, I don’t fit in here. And you, with your comments emanating mostly from outside the Beltway, help me out too.

This is one time where my Washington experience really helps us out. Because, knowing Washington and understanding its subtle maneuverings and the workings of its hidden hands, I can reveal to you the real reason why members of Congress will not vote before we go into a possible war in Syria:

They’re on vacation.

They’ve been out all month, and they’re not scheduled to come back until September 9, a full week after Labor Day.

So how was your vacation Mr. President?

Sounds like you're having a great vacation, Boehner.

Do not underestimate the power of this. I once had a senior Republican senator, someone you all know, lament to me off the floor of the Senate during one of the budget battles, “Obama is ruining Christmas!”

Our elected representatives today are on Caribbean Islands and rolling green golf courses, or wandering about delightfully quaint European cities. They have no intention of breaking it off to come back and vote on some silly war. That’s why you don’t hear their leaders clamoring for Obama to stage a vote – they’d be jeopardizing their positions as leaders.

But you are probably aware anyway that public service often looks more like public serve us.

Witness the recent White House move, at the insistence of Democrats and with the full cooperation of Republicans, to exempt lawmakers and their staffs from Obamacare.

That Britain – from whom we staged a rebellion to be granted the pleasure of a representative democracy – voted on the war and we didn’t is a towering disgrace.

And it is a vote on a war. Once the missiles start flying, there’s no telling what will happen. We can’t predict the response.

Congress is acting disgracefully by not returning to vote. Obama is acting disgracefully for not insisting they do, though we all saw that one coming.

When they return, no doubt Republicans will be grumbling about Obama’s determination, on many fronts, to usurp the power of the legislative branch. This, even though they themselves are too lazy to exercise their most basic power – the decision to send America to war.

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gracepmc August 30, 2013 at 11:07 am

I agree about the vacations but there are other “superficial” factors at work as well – Obama’s disdain for Congress-and disrespect for our allies. So it is not surprising that they are reluctant to help him save personal face. Perhaps if this was about America and her national interests….

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Julie Brueckheimer August 30, 2013 at 12:03 pm

One factor which is not superficial is that we have no true opposition party in the United States. Instead, the Republicans are the ‘loyal’ opposition, wink, wink. It should, btw, make each and everyone of us feel ashamed of our government that the Prime Minister of the UK made a statement that because his people do not want this, he would abandon the idea.

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Aileen August 31, 2013 at 9:06 am

I am so sickened by this bunch of “yee-haws” in government. May God have mercy on them because I wouldn’t and I don’t.

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Julie Brueckheimer August 30, 2013 at 11:12 am

Fox’s Greta V S has been with you on this. A few ‘lawmakers’ plead that this is the time they are holding town hall meetings with their constituents. I’ve read of a few, the most stellar being the one our srdem wrote about, McCain’s by invitation only town hall. As a result Obama was left to get token Congressional approval of his Syria plans last night by teleconference. BTW, he did not participate personally, ‘due to security reasons’. On a teleconference?

The Democrats were going to support him anyway, but there was ample opportunity for Boehner and McConnell to take the bull by the horns and call the Republicans back into session. We have to wait three more long years to replace Obama, but we can replace Boehner and McConnell next year by either voting them out or voting enough conservatives in who will not accept them as leaders.

I exempt Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul from my criticism as they have been working with large audiences across the country and on TV. But obviously, the Congress and the Republican establishment do not listen to them.

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anneinarkansas August 30, 2013 at 11:25 am

Great comment!

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DeniseVB August 30, 2013 at 11:33 am

Ted Cruz put it in writing ….. Obama needs to call a special session of Congress !

http://www.cruz.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=345616

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Julie Brueckheimer August 30, 2013 at 12:06 pm

!

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AFVet August 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Mega Dittoes Julie !

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sportinlife10 August 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Yes, yes, and yes.
Boehner and McConnell could’ve found their hmms, JUST THIS ONCE and treated this as a serious issue, if not for the Dems, at least for (what passes for) the Republicans. Disgraceful.

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MarjoJimbo August 30, 2013 at 4:45 pm

No town hall meetings are being held by either of my North Carolina senators. Hagan is up for re-election, too.

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DeniseVB August 30, 2013 at 11:14 am

Doesn’t he have the authority to call Congress back for an important vote ? Like War !

Here’s girly’s link again from downstairs,

http://weaselzippers.us/2013/08/30/the-empty-chair-strikes-back-obama-wasnt-even-on-call-consulting-with-select-members-of-congress-on-syria/

Who were these “select” members of Congress his thugs bullied last night ? I doubt there was much consulting other than “support Obama or else”.

We have your back Keith, many of us here are former Dems who never supported Obama in the first place, and right now, pretty hard to support the Republicans also. Keep on keeing on ….. :D

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AZ Granny August 30, 2013 at 11:28 am

Thanks for that link. I’m so outraged I can’t even think straight.

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anneinarkansas August 30, 2013 at 11:29 am

Thanks for the link. Unbelievable, Magic Johnson, Valerie Jarrett, and Travon Martin’s family….! We do know his priorities.

Magic’s tweet leaving the White House was after 11PM…and Val-Jar responded to it afterwards.

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gracepmc August 30, 2013 at 11:43 am

An evening soiree at the White House. A WH still closed to the American public.

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Julie Brueckheimer August 30, 2013 at 11:46 am

That was a great link, Denise. As usual, I might add. I hope every also hits on the tweet from Ted Cruz at the beginning. It fits right in with what Keith is writing about.

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Julie Brueckheimer August 30, 2013 at 11:46 am

everyone

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DeniseVB August 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Perhaps the conference call was only to Dems to reassure them Obama’s only going through the motions of firing on Syria just to make the Republicans say stupid things ? It’s all about 2014 and kicking them all out of office doncha’ know ;)

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Bonnie August 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm

UNBELIEVABLE. Valjar and Magic making foreign policy into the evening. Of course, it was all serious. No laughfter, no drinks, just grueling hard foreign policy decisions.
Put AZGranny and me somewhere out of the public eye to vent our frustrations. Pissed beyond words.

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AZ Granny August 30, 2013 at 12:31 pm

It’s too early here in AZ for the tea trolley, Bonnie, but it has to be 5 o’clock somewhere! LOL

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PBB August 30, 2013 at 11:14 am

Perhaps, Congress is knowledgeable to realize that Obama will do what he wants anyway by Executive Order or him and Kerry will wimp out anyway.

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Star August 30, 2013 at 11:21 am

Yup–can distance if it goes bad.

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Julie Brueckheimer August 30, 2013 at 11:37 am

There have been questions raised on the constitutionality of his doing so. On Fox they have thrown Obama’s and Biden’s own words back at them re a president’s authority to make military strikes where the US is not in imminent danger of attack.

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Otis Driftwood August 30, 2013 at 11:15 am

I also understand allot of them are keeping away from their constituents during this vacation period. As most of us know, BO (not the dog) does not like to work on weekends (or work in general anytime), so if there is no decision today to act, the decision may wait till next Tuesday. However there is nothing to say they decide today but not do the limited action thing till Sunday – Monday. That would have to be worked around BO’s golf schedule and ValJar’s “what ever she does” thing.

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Michael August 30, 2013 at 12:22 pm

This is also a “special” weekend, as Obama has another one of his $35K fundraisers on the west coast.

Does that scenario sound familiar? Benghazi, perhaps?

We all know where his priorities lie on that.

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srdem65 August 30, 2013 at 11:20 am

There’s no doubt that your opinion is absolutely correct; they’re not coming back from vacation to vote or even consult on this issue.

The Repubs are probably enjoying watching MrO twist slowly in the wind and have no intention of coming to his rescue. Some might even be anticipating the political fallout that will make their own re-election secure, or even for those inclined to the radical moves, a reason to call for impeachment.

The Dems are frantically making private calls to the WhiteHouse asking rhetorical questions like “is he insane, no one wants this war” to anyone who answers the phone there.

As for those on long-planned vacations, it’s not unusual for a vacation to be cut short or even ruined by bad news from home; Dad had a heart attack, Junior was hit by a car at college, or some such emergency.
MrObama getting his manhood stuck in a vacuum cleaner isn’t reason enough for those in Congress that MrO flailed for 5 years to come back to DC to pull the plug.
Payback is not a lady.

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Julie Brueckheimer August 30, 2013 at 11:40 am

The Republicans may enjoy seeing Obama twist in the wind on Syria, but their own lack of involvement is noticeable and may come back to haunt them next year.

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srdem65 August 30, 2013 at 12:03 pm

What you say is possible, butt there is a lose/lose for the Repubs and all of Congress no matter which way a vote might turn. If they vote against actions, MrO will blame the Repubs. If they vote for actions and it goes sideways, MrO will blame Congress.
He’s looking for an out, a reason to back away from his ill-chosen words that are forcing him to take responsiblitiy. As long as he believed that GB was on board, he had cover for making a move, but now , all he has is the French, for all the good that will do him. He NEEDS Congress to help him out of this mess.

The only politically sensible thing left for him to do is announce that “more investigations are necessary”, and hope the whole mess dies of lack of attention.

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Julie Brueckheimer August 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Good suggestion. They ought to use what the UN observers say as raising some questions and the need for delay because I have a strong feeling the UN observers will say they found no clear cut positive proof of which side used the chemicals.

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anneinarkansas August 30, 2013 at 11:24 am

Thanks, Keith, for great insight.

Also, in terms of the UK, I heard Richard Grenell, whom I admire, talking today about the misuse of diplomacy by Obama and the fact that he sent our ambassador, who had been recalled by Bush, back to Syria to open our embassy, a big mistake which we noticed at the time.

And what about Obama’s snub to Britain by returning the bust of Churchill and giving the Queen the copies of his speeches for her listening pleasure? I remember recoiling at the sight of Mooch putting her hands on the Queen! Wasn’t that just before she wore that ridiculous garb to Westminster Abbey?

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Marcus August 30, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Keith…I agree with your assessment 100%. Here we are on the verge of an enormous decision that could effect us all for many years to come, in ways we can’t imagine yet, and the Congress is off the clock. And they wonder why their approval rating is, what, 15 percent?

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Sadie August 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm

“That Britain – from whom we staged a rebellion to be granted the pleasure of a representative democracy – voted on the war and we didn’t is a towering disgrace.” – Keith Koffler

Keith: You nailed it. Hammer meets head. All I could think of when I read that was a old SNL one-liner..”I am Chevy Chase and you’re not!” The only thing that’s changed is the first two words: “WE’RE FROM…..”

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Susan August 30, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I have no doubt you are right about the ruling class putting their leisure activities before the best interest of America, Keith. Real statesmen wouldn’t have to be called back to D.C. to take a stand, they’d already be out there voicing their opposition to Obama’s despotism like Senators Cruz, Lee, and Paul are doing. Mark Levin’s Article 5 convention may be the only way to fix Washington, D.C. because it is broken beyond repair.

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CiscoKid August 30, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Congress doesn’t want to be bothered while on vacation, eh?
Reminds me of when Hitler went to sleep the night before D-day with orders not to be disturbed.
Will we suffer the same consequences?

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Junius August 30, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Applause. Right on the money. The interests and well being of we, the people, are protected and defended by no one in any of the branches of government at this point in our history and that includes both democrats and republicans.

This will all end in catastrophe for this nation.

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AFVet August 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Rush is broadcasting the fact that Obama’s “red line” statement is now backfiring on him.
Our best ally Great Britain, has essentially told him to pound sand.
France is still in the fight,….OK,….
Russia has said that you better not.
China is sitting back and watching the video.

Now the great orator, Barack Obama has put his mouth in front of his spine, and he is being called on it by world powers that want to see what we got.
We got a lot, except for a real leader.
After softening the military down to a PC correct establishment and dismissing anyone that is against the LGBT agenda that the administration promotes, now your going to take on Muslim extremists that have no consideration for human life if you differ from the principles of Sharia law.

Well now, that is a riddle.
A conundrum, a conundrum that a reasonable person has a problem factoring through, unless you are a fraud, a charlatan, a liar.

Congress is on to you and we are on to congress.
We the People will beat you.
You are no longer dealing with intellectual reprobates.

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Aileen August 30, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Well said, AFVet.
And…
Thank you Keith. You are standing tall and proud. You are not alone.

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Star August 30, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I read on Newsbusters that during the conference call, led by ball of fire Clapper and that Hagel, Obama was schmoozing with Magic Johnson “about jobs.” Yeah, what about them?

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Girly1 August 30, 2013 at 2:19 pm

We still haven’t learned where he was the night of Benghazi. I have the feeling every night at that WH is MLK night!

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Aileen August 31, 2013 at 10:47 am

What does Magic Johnson know about jobs that NO-ONE ELSE in the country knows?!?!?!?

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Star August 30, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Maybe we should just have an on-call Congress. In AZ, being a legislator is part-time. The rest of the time, the lawmakers (or whatever term you like) are working as lawyers or in small businesses or whatever to make their real money. They are exposed to the real pressures. An on-call Congress would mean that if the leaders ever wrestled together an issue and thought there should be a vote–the members would come back. Vacay or no. Oh, well–I have a rich fantasy life.

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JP August 30, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Listening to Kerry now, you can bet we are going to attack Syria. No question in mind.

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gracepmc August 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I am no big fan of Congress but on this the primary fault is Obama’s. From his disdain for Congress from the get go, to his long drawn out red line to his comments about willing to go it alone, to his lack of any objective let alone a strategic objective there is little r eason for Congress to reassemble. As it is he met with the Martins and M. Johnson in lieu of participating in the conference call. If Obama was serious he could have either had Biden assemble the Congresscritters or Obama himself could have called the leadership and requested a session.

There are consequences for arrogance and leading from behind. Just like there are consequences for using a tablet to comment. I can’t scroll down to where I suspect there is some dangling verbiage. :)

requested a session.

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Misscheryl August 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

This maybe crazy, but it is possible they don’t want to get their hands dirty and instead want to put the total responsibility for this whole mess right in middle of barry’s lap? Especially before 2014 elections. I know this is a serious matter and partisan politics shouldn’t play a role in something as dire as war, but look who we are talking about.

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gracepmc August 30, 2013 at 1:55 pm

It deserves to be in Obama’s lap.

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Misscheryl August 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I agree.

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sportinlife10 August 31, 2013 at 7:26 am

not much else there.

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Girly1 August 30, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Dr. Krauthammer: “The only purpose here for a military strike by president Obama is to assuage the guilty conscience or vindiate the vanity of this president”.

It’s all about Obama’s image/ego. His lips were flapping in the wind when he uttered his idle threat about ‘red lines’. Now we are all going to pay the price. He has backed himself into a corner.

Kerry called Assad a ‘thug and a murderer’. Same words George Bush used when describing Saddam Hussein. Yet both Kerry and Obama denounced the actions of George W. Bush.

Jimmy Carter said ‘a strike if initiated by Obama would be illegal’.

Obama himself said in 2007:
The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situtation that does not involve stopping and actual or imminent threat to the Nation.

Obama is expected to make a statement in the presence of his 3 Baltic states visitors this afternoon. Will he answer questions from the press pool? Don’t hold your breath.

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Trialdog August 30, 2013 at 3:21 pm

It’s also Friday. Not just that, but Friday before a 3 day weekend. These are federal employees we are talking about. If the average guy who pays outrageous taxes really knew how hard their federal employees worked…..

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OldmanRick August 30, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Our alleged leaders, representatives, and government officials are nothing more than girlie men – they can talk the talk, but they can’t walk the walk. They are about as useful as store mannequins in a fight – totally worthless.

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Jeff1000 August 30, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Thanks for the inside dope Keith. Even I wasn’t cynical enough to imagine that vacations were the reason for Congress’s inactivity. With all the rotten-to-the-bone stuff going on we have this too. It makes one wonder what hope there is for our country.

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lizzytalorburton August 30, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Vote? Vote for what? Again bombing a country thats not bothering us? Why is an Obama drone allowed to kill innocent people?
And his balls are all in an uproar over chemical weapons? Murder is murder, drones, chemicals, bombs. The new Kerry also is a war-monger? he;s worried about Syrians, both sides hate us and would kill us all if they could. Please, we have horrible President and a horrible Administration filled with morons.

If Obama bombs Syria, thats it — we have to get rid of him if he does that.

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Mary Ann Jones August 30, 2013 at 10:04 pm

You are “right on”, as I see it, about what is happening, and/or not happening in Washington, D.C. The Washington “Elite” are underestimating the average U.S. citizen’s awareness of Congress’s self-serving actions. It’s very obvious to any person who seeks the truth that Obama & his coharts are destroying our country. Please don’t get discouraged, but keep spreading the word. We need you as a beacon of hope. Thank you! Oh yes, happy Labor Day!

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gracepmc August 30, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Keith, Nice to see that this was mentioned at the Bookworm Room. Good show.

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Sadie August 31, 2013 at 12:05 am

I’ll second that grace. It was a Bookwormroom recommendation that brought me here.

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gracepmc August 31, 2013 at 12:17 am

I don’t go there as often as I would like, but it is a good site and there is always something worthwhile. IMO I am always glad to see Keith mentioned at some of the other places I visit.

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phaedruscj August 31, 2013 at 10:11 am

Seriously?

First has Obama asked them to come back?

Second, if they came back on their own the republicans would be accused of racist motivations for undermining Obama decision making process.

Third it wasn’t Congress that made the bone headed off the cuff remark about chemical weapons being a red line. Looks like 13 red lines have been crossed actually.

Fourth Biden and Obama forcefully ridiculed President Bush for his efforts that involved a real coalition that enforced UN resolutions violated by Iraq.

Congress should come back but only if Obama submits his proposal to act militarily to them for their approval. There is no imminent threat to the US that requires him to act without Congress.

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DMcG August 31, 2013 at 12:53 pm

The difference between us and Great Britain is that while they have a democratic Parliament, we have a king. So we don’t need to vote.

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