On Wednesday, President Obama will reveal his strategy for combatting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. No one knows exactly what it will be, but there is a good chance it will involve air strikes in Syria. That has led to a logical question: Will Obama ask Congress for permission for those strikes, as he did last year when Congress eventually rebuffed him? Or will he go at it alone?
You might think Republicans would demand Obama consult with Congress before undertaking those attacks. You’d be wrong. In a remarkable bit of honesty, Jack Kingston, the Republican Congressman from Georgia, explained why in the New York Times today:
A lot of people would like to stay on the sideline and say, ‘Just bomb the place and tell us about it later.’ It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.
Kingston, as the Times notes, supports having a vote on air strikes in Syria. But what he's saying is still remarkable: Republicans don’t want to vote on a force authorization so that they can avoid taking a position and criticize the president no matter what happens. In many ways, this is the story of Obama’s presidency: He can do no right among the Republican Party. Better for the GOP to attack him and avoid laying out a coherent agenda. After all, why govern when you can just sit on the sidelines and score political points? At least, Kingston is being honest though.
Correction: This piece originally stated that Kingston does not support having a vote on authorizing air strikes in Syria. To his credit, he does support it.