For years now I've been writing about how President Obama employs conciliatory rhetoric as a ruthless strategy. After his remarks this morning regarding Syria, I think a few more people are catching on to what I mean by that. For example, here's one of my favorite quotes that describes what it looks like.
One way to deal with that kind of bad-faith opposition is to draw the person in, treat them as if they were operating in good faith, and draw them into a conversation about how they actually would solve the problem. If they have nothing, it shows. And that's not a tactic of bipartisan Washington idealists -- it's a hard-nosed tactic of community organizers, who are acutely aware of power and conflict. It's how you deal with people with intractable demands -- put ‘em on a committee.What the President just did today was put the United States Congress on the "committee" to decide what we'll do about Syria's use of chemical weapons. That is a bold move that seems to have caught most everyone off guard. But it totally eliminates the position of "arm chair quarterbacks" who have taken up residence on the sidelines bitching about what is happening on the field.
Men with an ego to feed can't make this play...they're too busy thinking about how to position themselves for the "win." But, as we know, President Obama plays the long game. He knows that one way to shut up your critics is to give them some responsibility and then hold them accountable. Over the course of his Presidency, he's been asking Congress to step up to the plate and make some tough calls. After all the screaming about him needing to get Congressional approval for these actions, they're going to look like damn fools if they refuse to do so on this one. The outcome of that battle far outweighs the importance of what we do in Syria. And on this one, President Obama wins either way. Either we get a Congress that steps up to the plate, or he has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are incapable of doing so.
Nice play, Mr. President!