Cowardice, Meet Politics: Congress Didn't Want to Vote on ISIS Plan, Anyway


Gage Skidmore / Flickr

It is clear to many people—even many Congressmen—that President Obama's decision not to seek Congressional authorization for his plan to fight ISIS is blatantly unconstitutional. So why is no one pressing the president about that? Don't national lawmakers possess, at the very least, some basic desire to hold onto their legitimate powers?

It appears that they don't—or rather, political considerations trump all else. According to BuzzFeed's John Stanton, most legislators were perfectly happy not voting on ISIS matters, for fear that a vote could come back to haunt them in future election cycles:

"There are a lot of members who'd just rather just not vote on this and let the president to shoulder the [political] weight of taking us to war," Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said Tuesday. Schiff is one of a handful of lawmakers who has pushed for a vote this month on a new Authorized Use of Military Force legislation to cover the administration's campaign against ISIS. …

The perils of a vote for lawmakers are clear: Giving Obama authority could be a major liability in future elections; Hilary Clinton famously took major heat during the 2008 presidential campaign for her support of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. If Congress failed to pass authorization and a major attack were to happen in the homeland, lawmakers could see an even more severe backlash.

So even though legislators of both political parties remain deeply skeptical that Obama's policy of launching continuous airstrikes against ISIS and arming the Syrian rebels will accomplish any long-term goal, the president will basically always get his way on contentious foreign policy matters, since voting carries political risks.

(Keep in mind that the CIA has been discreetly arming the Syrian rebels all along, even though the vote to do that specific thing only took place yesterday. The CIA now believes such a strategy is "doomed to failure.")

Democracy: Good for a laugh, if nothing else.

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  1. No one wants the blame. Obama is a lame duck with 400,000,000 dollars. He’s the only one with nothing to lose since congressmen have, for the most part, lost their manhood long ago.

    1. FWIW, this probably plays into the Republicans’ hands.

      If the Deems voted to support Obama’s war, it would expose them for being no different from the Republicans.

      If they don’t vote, it’s Obama’s war, and the Dem’s biggest draw looking like a warmonger doesn’t help the Dem’s either.

      Not having to vote might help with the Dem’s fundraising on a candidate by candidate basis. Some of them can pretend to be antiwar to their base–even though they would have folded like lawnchairs anyway.

      Certainly reasonable people shouldn’t pretend there was any chance that Obama wouldn’t have gotten whatever authorization hw wanted. The Dems aren’t about to vote against him, and the establishment Rebukes want to go after ISIS more than Obama does.

  2. Robbie, whatchu talkin’ ’bout, “future election cycles”?!

    You know where we are in this election cycle, don’t you?

    1. Most of the Senate is busy campaigning for 2016/2018.

      1. I suspect Obama was coordinating this decision with an eye on 2014.

        Obama doesn’t give a shit about 2016.

  3. Congress’ only priority is re-election.

    1. I always thought it was personal enrichment.

      1. Personal enrichment is a side piece. The true scum have to have POWER to go with the money, or they aren’t fulfilled.

        1. To have power, don’t you need to influence policy? If these nutless pansies really desire more power, why don’t they use the power they already have?

          1. Not the power to actually do good or make meaningful policy; just the power to bestow favors and money on those in their districts, and to happily lord their station over the plebs and those willing to wine, dine, and 69 them.

      2. You need to be re-elected a few times to make all the right connections to get the cushy job in private life.

  4. As Gene Hackman once said, in a really bad movie:

    “Winners always want the ball.”

    I think that sums it up nicely.

    1. By “really bad” you mean “completely awesome”, right?

      Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever.

      1. Put it this way. I loved it. But it starred Keanu Reeves, which, by definition, makes it a bad movie.

        Sorry, I don’t make the rules.

      2. “Your not even a has been Falco, your a never was.”

    2. Has he ever been in a good movie?

      1. The French Connection? Superman? Enemy of the State?(most accurate movie ever?) Unfuckingforgiven? The Replacements? Hoosiers? Jesus, I’m a millennial and I know these things.

        1. The Conversation.

          1. Haven’t seen it.

            1. I was piling on, not chiding you.

            2. It’s a really good movie. If you liked Enemy of the State, you’ll probably like it. Gene Hackman basically plays the same character in both films.

              It’s on Netflix.

            3. What Bam said, though the Conversation is MUCH better than Enemy of the State.

        2. No Way Out? Get Shorty? A bridge to far? and I’m out.

        3. Bonnie and Clyde. The list is very long.

        1. Curses!

      2. Unforgiven

      3. Are you joking?

        1. eEhoosiers exists or he’s joking.

          1. *either he is so senile he forgot Hoosiers exists or he’s joking.

        2. Not really. Unforgiven was decent. Behind Enemy Lines was terrible. Sports movies don’t interest me and I thought Superman sucked. I saw Enemy of the State once but don’t really remember much other than Will Smith running a lot. So it was an honest question.

          1. No Way Out? With the double head-fake ending?

            1. That movie is pretty underrated.

              1. It’s like an M. Night Shyamalan wet dream.

            2. Never seen it.

              1. Kevin Costner, Will Patton as the closted homosexual toady to Hackman’s defense secretary, Fred Thompson? Cold War mole hunt with a great twist.

                1. Would have been a great movie…without the last scene.

            3. I remember David Letterman spoiling the ending on purpose, before I’d seen it. Just to be a dick.

            4. No Way Out was indeed awesome.

          2. Behind Enemy Lines has Owen Wilson in it and is therefore rendered terrible.

            1. You leave Owen Wilson alone.

              1. Has Owen ever done anything with Keanu? If so, I’m sure it double sucked.

              2. Hackman and Owen were also in the Royal Tennenbaums, which was awesome if you like that sort of thing.

      4. Tell me that’s a rhetorical question meant to elicit long lists of great movies he’s been in. I love Hackman.

        1. I thought it would be longer.

          1. We are just slow. BAT 21 is another one.

          2. Look, not all of use are lawyers or have government jobs here..

        2. He basically plays the same character in every movie. Not very versatile.

          1. The blind man in Young Frankenstein, Popeye Doyle in the French Connection and Little Bill in Unforgiven. Totally the same.

            1. The blind man in Young Frankenstein, Popeye Doyle in the French Connection and Little Bill in Unforgiven. Totally the same.

              And now the world finally makes sense!

    1. They actually just changed the name of that publication to “*Garble garble garble*, sorry BO’s nuts were in my mouth, Salon.”

    2. Slate believes that the average American can’t take a shit without Government supervision, isn’t the ultimate insult to say that Obama is just an average American?

    3. I thought Obama was a light worker who was going to transform the country? Why can’t the black Jesus lead America and show them the light? He is the black Jesus after all.

      1. Hopenchange, smart diplomacy, etc. etc.

      2. Slate hopes to play the role of Saint Paul once the unappreciated savior has ascended.

      3. “Why can’t the black Jesus lead America and show them the light?”

        Because American’s just aren’t good enough to follow in his foot steps of course!

    4. We are like the Cleveland Browns of citizens.

      1. America is just ungovernable. No President can ever be successful now. The political environment is just too toxic and the Republicans too hate filled and radicalized by the SOCONs and the Tea Party. It wasn’t that Obama wasn’t up to the job, he was. He was the last best hope America had. It is just that America wasn’t worthy of such a great man.

        Slate/Salon/WAPO/NYT the day after if the Democrats lose the White House in 2016.

        I really should just sell out and start writing full on Prog. The people who do it are so fucking stupid and such neurotic broken people they can’t even get the talking points right most of the time. It wouldn’t be hard to excel given the competition. It would just take an absolute commitment to say whatever the party wanted to hear.

        1. What’s scary is they are chiding us for not slipping into a commi shithole fast enough.

          1. We just are not trying hard enough. If we tried harder these programs would work. It is the same movie every time. Things would work if only we tried harder and the various hateful wreckers and hoarders would stop sabotaging the program.

            1. Communism sounds hard.

        2. It is just that America wasn’t worthy of such a great man.

          I didn’t RTFA. Please tell me that isn’t a real quote.

          1. No. I made it up. That is me auditioning to be a Prog oped writer. I fooled you. You should have noticed it was fake by the quality of the prose and the at least thin veneer of rationality in the paragraph. It wasn’t nearly emotional and obviously bat shit crazy to be a real Prog oped writer. But I thinking that will be my hook, “hey I am not crazy and seem rational and know how to properly communicate in the English language”.

            1. Just be careful. The party line can change on you in an instant. We’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

              1. And once you are in, you can never leave. There is no one they hate more than an apostate.

            2. Not bad, John, but you still have a way to go to equal “Blighter.”

        3. They pulled out that “ungovernable” line during the Carter administration as well. They sincerely believe if a Democrat fails, it’s because the country is broken beyond repair.

          1. They are nothing if not predictable.

        4. I really should just sell out and start writing full on Prog. The people who do it are so fucking stupid and such neurotic broken people they can’t even get the talking points right most of the time.

          I think most of us here could do a pretty good job at it. Maybe we should start putting Reasonoid moles into prominent proggie publications and just co-opt the movement when it reaches critical mass?

          1. I have often thought of it. Really do a full on Andie Kaufman long con and see how far I could go. If a say a few dozen others did the same, it would be pretty interesting. Once you got establish you could subtly start sabotaging the movement by attacking other progs and turning them against each other.

            If nothing else, a few lefty hero writers revealing themselves as right wing pranksters would cause tremendous angst. From then on you could troll the hell out of them by accusing this or that lefty douche de jour of being a right wing plant.

            1. “Ha! You finally found me out! But Yglesias was in on it the entire time! And Chait! And Marcotte! And Klein, all of the Kleins! You’ve been had, progtards!”

              The resulting finger-pointing and witch-hunting would be delicious.

            2. You need to embark on this post haste.

            3. Would be hard to keep a straight face at all those COCKTAIL PARTIEZ

              1. Very hard. And you would have to take some kind of sabbatical to get all of the stupid out of your brain.

            4. The unbearable agony of having to endure the mental yoga necessary to follow and imitate the prog way of thinking would only be exceeded by the amount of joy engendered by the divisiveness and demoralization caused by the eventual revelation.

  5. Hmm. What a dilemma:

    Option a) Congress rubber stamping whatever the President wants to do.

    Option b) Congress just letting him do whatever he wants without the rubber stamp.

    I find myself pondering whether a third option even exists.

    1. Its not a dilemma at all. If Congress approves, then the President doing it is legal. Of course Congress is then also part of the decision.

      1. Of course one could also argue that having an option to vote on it, and choosing not to, is tacit consent.

        I mean, seriously, that IS what it is.
        The whole point of not voting is to tacitly consent to Obama’s plan.

        1. It should work that way but it doesn’t. Unless you get the rat bastards to vote, they will always duck responsibility and sometimes even when they do vote. Hell, a ton of Democrats voted for the Iraq invasion, yet somehow it was “Bush’s War”

  6. And this is a surprise? Of course they didn’t want to vote. If it goes tits up, the Democrats want to be able to blame Obama and claim they would have stopped him if only they could have. Thanks to this going to a vote, a whole lot of Democrats are not on record as approving this thing. That is the last thing they want.

    There is going to be an enormous civil war in 2016 between the Get the US out of North America Why do they hate us Progs and the Wilsonian world order Clintonites. The Democrats in Congress don’t want to have to pick sides until they know who is going to win.

    1. Also, forcing vulnerable Dems to vote for Obama AND war in purple districts is actually smart of the Stupid Party. I hate the zero-sum game of politics and its effects on governing, but the GOP finally did something right.

      1. It also hurts Obama by making opposition to him bipartisan. No one can now credibly accuse the Republicans who voted against this of just hating Obama since a good number of Democrats did the same.

    2. Haven’t we been talking about this for weeks?!

      Sometimes Robbie comes across like Butters.

      1. Seriously, “future election cycles”!?


    3. The Democrats? Yeah, I think that counts at least as much for the Republicans.

      1. The Republicans never waiver in what side they are on. They are world order, go kill them before they kill us types. And thus mostly voted for this. This issue isn’t going to split the Republican Party or cause anything more than a few nasty words and hurt feelings. This issue does, however, have the potential of splitting and breaking the Democrats like nothing since Vietnam has.

  7. They like their jobs more than they like power.

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