‘Red line’ politics and the ‘blame Bush’ strategy

The left is out in full force working to spin President Obama’s failure to make his case for military strikes against Syria’s Assad forces as — wait for it — George W. Bush’s fault.

The first salvo was by top Democratic strategists on Twitter over the weekend, likely just after an emergency message strategy conference call with the White House when it was clear the Obama “red line” major gaffe was not enough to garner support from enough Republicans or Democrats in Congress to support the Nobel Peace Prize recipient’s march to war.

Obama-friendly media and further Blame Bush Democratic strategists have amped up the volume in what can only be seen as a desperate and dangerously cynical attempt to help the president save political face. But to suggest that the nation and Congress might not back Obama simply because former President Bush defended U.S. interests by successfully fulfilling the long-held U.S. policy of regime change in Iraq, which was also our nation’s policy under former President Clinton, is a deadly game. It’s also a fairly solid reason to keep the political advisers as far away from the Situation Room as is humanly possible.

ADVERTISEMENT
Taking the nation to war, with or without boots on the ground, is the most serious and consequential vote of conscience any lawmaker will ever make. This is true be they Republican or Democrat, no matter which party holds the White House or congressional majorities. And thus it has always been. The vast majority will put their country first, no matter what.

The Congressional Black Caucus chairman has advised its members to stay quiet. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has publicly warned that Obama might not find the Democrat votes in the House he needs, and Republicans are equally wary.

While the White House is valiantly trying to illustrate to members the atrocities of the chemical slaughter by — he assumes — Bashar Assad's forces, it comes a full year after the president veered “off teleprompter” and vowed undefined action if the Syrian president crossed the “red line” of chemical WMD use in that country’s civil war. Once uttered, be it accidental or strategic, Obama then had an obligation to begin serious discussions with lawmakers regarding what might be around the bend. 

He did not do that. He had the opportunity to start working with Congress to devise a strategy to assist the rebel forces in some way, perhaps with arms and training, before al Qaeda joined the rebels and Assad became more emboldened. He did not do that. That he is now scrambling to explain himself by way of asking for lawmakers' trust and to cast that most difficult of votes, which most will ponder until their last breath, is, well — breathtaking. That he has sent his political minions out to the airwaves and social media to launch a “blame Bush” campaign, while simultaneously trying to convince lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that this is not about politics, not about him, and then to ridiculously deny he ever make the “red line” threat in the first place is nothing short of astonishing.

The composition of the rebel forces in Syria is complex, and becomes more confusing by the day. This was not the case a year ago, when the president spoke of his “red line

Sixty percent of Americans supported Bush’s Iraq War policy at its onset, but that number dropped dramatically when asked if they supported the move if the U.S. had to go it alone without allies, and without United Nations Security Council backing. Obama has neither. He and his political team know this, but are banking on an ignorant public in order to make this latest strategy successful.

For the political left to launch a PR “blame Bush” blitz under these circumstances is unconscionable.