The Great Debate UK
from The Great Debate:
Congressional Democrats are in a bind. If they vote to authorize a military strike on Syria, they could be putting the country on a slippery slope to war. But if they vote no, they will deliver a crushing defeat to their president.
What President Barack Obama did was call their bluff. Last week, more than 50 House Democrats signed a letter urging the president to “seek an affirmative decision of Congress” before committing to any military engagement. That was the Democrats' way of going on record to express reservations about what Obama sounded like he was going to do anyway. Then, lo and behold, the president decided to do exactly what they asked. Now it's their decision.
Anti-war sentiment is a powerful force on the left. It was nurtured by bitter experiences in Vietnam and Iraq. Obama himself comes out of that tradition. He is trying to keep faith with it by arguing, as he did at a meeting with congressional leaders, that his attack plan is “proportional, it is limited, it does not involve boots on the ground.” He added, “This is not Iraq, and this is not Afghanistan.” Secretary of State John Kerry tried to change the metaphor when he called it “a Munich moment.” Meaning, a “no” vote would be a vote to appease a dictator.
The president cannot afford to lose this vote. If he does, his authority will be severely weakened. He will find it difficult to get anything passed for the remainder of his term -- budget deal, immigration reform, funding for Obamacare, climate change legislation. He will instantly become a lame duck.
U.S. midterm elections brought a degree of sweet payback for banks miffed about financial reform and President Barack Obama's populist rhetoric. Their campaign dollars helped fund huge Republican gains. But the new Tea Party-infused GOP will present as many challenges as opportunities.
Wall Street certainly made its displeasure clear to Democrats. During the 2008 campaign, Goldman Sachs -- through individuals and its political action committees -- gave 25 percent of campaign cash to Republicans. This time around, it was 59 percent. JPMorgan went from 40 percent to 52 percent and it was the same story, more or less, for Citigroup and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.