Watching a debate descend to new depths

Updated
Watching a debate descend to new depths
Watching a debate descend to new depths
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If news consumers tuned into the Sunday morning public-affairs shows hoping for a high-minded debate over U.S. policy in Syria, they probably came away disappointed.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), for example, complained of President Obama, “I wish he was more of a commander in chief than a community organizer.” I’m sure this will be the basis for a lovely fundraising letter, but I haven’t the foggiest idea what the line means. Neither, I suspect, does King.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, complained that the president’s schedule last week was “mystifying.” Obama announced his intention to wait for a congressional debate, the Michigan Republican said, “and then left the country for a week.” This makes it sound like the president went on vacation – in reality, Obama traveled to a long-scheduled, three-day G-20 summit where he tried to rally international support for his foreign policy, while dispatching the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense to make the case to lawmakers. What’s “mystifying” about that?

And then, of course, there was Karl Rove, who expressed his dismay at the White House’s foolish decision to seek congressional approval.

“Because he got right up to the edge and then on Friday has the 45-minute walk and pulls back and heads of to the G-20. He heads off to Sweden and the G-20. And the energy behind it dissipated. The president probably should have been better, to take an action. We now have the Syrians with god knows how many days or weeks if the United States does take action to disperse all of these units, to, you know, protect themselves as much as possible. Build human shields. This is an unmitigated disaster; it’s an amateur hour at the White House.”

Putting aside the hilarious irony of Rove, who helped the Bush/Cheney administration lie the nation into a disastrous war in Iraq, accusing anyone of amateurishness, there’s a more subtle problem with Rove’s whining.

As he sees it, Obama erred by following the constitutional model and should have taken “an action” without congressional approval. And who was the one arguing two weeks ago that Obama should take this debate to Congress? That would be Karl Rove, who told a national television audience two weeks ago that the president “has to go to Congress” before intervening in Syria. Rove added at the time that two-thirds of the lawmakers in the House and Senate would approve a resolution authorizing force.

Because if there’s one area in which Rove excels, it’s making specific statistical predictions.

What we’re left with is Karl Rove arguing that the president was foolish for doing what Karl Rove urged him to do. Brilliant.

Karl Rove, Foreign Policy and Syria

Watching a debate descend to new depths

Updated