It’s full court press day for the White House. The President will do six interviews today with anchors from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN and PBS. Tomorrow night he will speak to the nation.
All this is to try to rally support in Congress for an authorization to use military force against Syria.
Most experts say Congress is already close to set in stone. The Senate might vote with the President, the House is almost certain to say no.
Of course the President could move wavering members of Congress with his arguments to the networks today, and with his speech to the world tomorrow.
However, it seems the President’s case was not helped today with a television interview of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad who warned American should be prepared for “everything” in Syria’s response to an attack, or the opportunistic response from terror groups.
And it also was not helpful that Secretary of State Kerry, in yet another pitch for approval of a military strike, blurted out that the attack will be “unbelievably small.” If it’s that small, what’s the point of inviting retaliation that would drag us into a larger war with Syria?
Americans do not seem to be in a ‘bring ’em on” mood.
But the real problem with the President’s pitch for a mini-war is that he has made his arguments in public several times in recent days, and in any new speech he tends to repeat himself. He will repeat what you have already heard: if America doesn’t act, who will? The use of chemical weapons on children is a violation of “international norms” which demands a military response. He “isn’t itching” for a war, he was “elected to end wars, not start them”, but the United States is the one everyone expects to take action.
The reason this is a problem was pointed out by Obama supporter Ezra Klein in his Washington Post Wonkblog, in which he listed several reasons the White House has a problem convincing the Congress, the public, or the world.
Klein wrote: “The problem for Obama’s big push is that he doesn’t have an argument that’s working. President Obama will give six televised interviews today and make a primetime speech Tuesday night. But the problem for the White House isn’t that their arguments haven’t been heard. It’s that they’re not working. Both members of the public and members of Congress believe the intelligence. They just remain skeptical that there’s any upside to a U.S. attack.”
The moneyline: “He doesn’t have an argument that’s working.”
That is both a true and a devastating observation.
And worse, it seems the arguments against, whether they come from the President’s supporters on the left, or his opponents on the right, seem to be trumping anything the President has said.
He has pulled his fat out of the fire with a speech before, several times actually.
If he loses this vote in Congress he will be wounded and remain so for the remainder of his term.
This is a do-or-die moment for the President.