U.S. policy in Syria is complex and deeply serious, and officials on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue have some difficult, consequential decisions to make. If ever there was a time for politicians to bring the A-game to a debate over foreign policy and national security, this is it.
And yet, this is what we're too often left with.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss joins the growing chorus critical of President Barack Obama's "red line" comments, saying the president is failing to lead on the issue."What it says to me is that the president gets lost when he doesn't have a teleprompter in front of him, which he obviously didn't last year," Chambliss told "Fox & Friends" on Thursday.The vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said Obama's remarks were "mystifying."
Look, maybe you think U.S. military intervention in Syria is wise; maybe you don't. Perhaps you're of the opinion that military strikes would make matters worse; perhaps you believe they'd make matters better. Maybe you think the use of chemical weapons should trigger a military response; may you don't. It's not an easy call.
But can we agree that inane teleprompter taunts from a senator on the Armed Services Committee and the vice chair of the Intelligence Committee aren't exactly constructive right now?
First, the Republican Party's official line as recently as last fall was that the "red line" in Syria on chemical weapons was their position, too. During last year's vice presidential debate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) specifically said, "We agree with the same red line, actually, they do on chemical weapons.... They're right about that."
If the GOP now sees the "red line" as reckless and stupid, the party came to this realization very recently.
And second, where has Saxby Chambliss been, exactly. Obama's reference to the "red line" on Syria's use of chemical weapons came last year, and as best as I can tell, the far-right Georgia senator said nothing. Republican leaders said they agreed with the policy, and again, Chambliss said nothing.
Now that there's a crisis, the senator finds year-old presidential remarks "mystifying"? Was he slow to keep up on current events or did Chambliss just now realize how upset he is?
The point of the childish teleprompter jokes is the Republican way of saying they think President Obama is dumb. Given Saxby Chambliss' background and record, it's a fight the GOP should probably try to avoid.