Was Kerry winging it on Syria?

posted at 10:00 am on March 1, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

One reason that Senate alums get easy rides in confirmation hearings is the presumption that as members of the club, they represent a close tie to a presidential administration and their activities.  It supposedly eases the communication gap between the White House and Capitol Hill, as the appointee will have personal contact with the men and women who have oversight into Cabinet agencies, while helping an administration build support for policies and initiatives through the personal relationships on the Hill.  Chuck Hagel was a poor choice in that regard (as well as many others, which became apparent during his confirmation hearing) because he built few of those personal relationships in two terms in the Senate, and torched the one he had built with John McCain over Barack Obama and the surge.

John Kerry was supposed to be different.  Unfortunately, leaders on Capitol Hill woke up to an unpleasant surprise yesterday (via Instapundit):

Lawmakers on Thursday said the State Department left Congress in the dark about the administration’s decision to aid rebel forces in Syria.

The leaders of the panels that cover foreign policy told The Hill they weren’t briefed ahead of Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement Thursday that America would be sending $60 million worth of food and medicine directly to the rebels battling Syrian President Bashar Assad.

As it turns out, the White House and State Department didn’t bother to brief anyone on Capitol Hill on their decision to reverse course and provide direct aid to the Syrian opposition, which will run $60 million.  The decision will put “non-lethal” resources into the hands of a rebellion whose most significant component has been listed as a terrorist organization with ties to al-Qaeda — by the agency Kerry now runs.

Democrats weren’t openly criticizing the lack of consultation, but Republicans certainly were.  Their staffs were engaging the State Department almost to the moment Kerry made the announcement, yet “were told nothing”:

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Kerry used to chair, said his staff were talking to the State Department until 8 p.m. Wednesday to get a sense of what might be discussed at Thursday’s meeting in Rome with the Syrian opposition. They were told nothing. …

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he wasn’t briefed, either.

“Isn’t that strange?” he said. “Yeah, I should have.”

Corker told The Hill that Republicans would likely have supported the decision, which makes the blindsiding all the more strange.  Why not build political support for that move, especially bipartisan support, that could be rolled out at the same time?  Even if Republicans decided to balk at it — House Armed Services chair Buck McKeon said “at some point, they start using bullets to shoot back at us” — at least some Republicans would have come along.  Isn’t that the value of Kerry’s ties to the Senate?

Michael Ramirez reminded us this week that Kerry’s tenure is just another example of “smart power”:

ramirez-kerry

That certainly seems to be the overriding philosophy of the White House, at least in dealing with Congress.

Also, be sure to check out Ramirez’ terrific collection of his works: Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion, which covers the entire breadth of Ramirez’ career, and it gives fascinating look at political history.  Read my review here, and watch my interviews with Ramirez here and here.  And don’t forget to check out the entire Investors.com site, which has now incorporated all of the former IBD Editorials, while individual investors still exist.


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Did the Russians return his phone call yet?

Lol.

petefrt on March 1, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Why does Obama always place blame on Congress ?

It is pretty clear he has no interest in talking to them.

Jabberwock on March 1, 2013 at 10:04 AM

The country is about to implode from a 2.3% cut in future spending that’s not a cut, yet we’re going to give $60 million to people who don’t run a country?

Liam on March 1, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Oh so very CLEAR and TRANSPARENT say what!

You voted him in you stupid stupid repubs…

You wanted him, you got him, now quit yer gripeing…

Nincompoops, the fracking lot of ya…

Scrumpy on March 1, 2013 at 10:11 AM

John Kerry was supposed to be different.

That’s funny.

Pork-Chop on March 1, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Did the Russians return his phone call yet?

petefrt on March 1, 2013 at 10:03 AM

No, they called directly to Obama. They asked which account to deliver the first tranche to. He’s got 2016 to think of, you know, and third term elections aren’t cheap. Just ask Bloomberg.

Archivarix on March 1, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Obama is mad that Politicians are manufacturing crisis..

Obama says this in between him flying all over manufacturing a crisis.

Stupid people will believe Obama.

Electrongod on March 1, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Somebody should warn our ambassador in Damascus that non-lethal aid might go straight through his heart in the near future.

Steve Z on March 1, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Lawmakers on Thursday said the State Department left Congress in the dark about the administration’s decision to aid rebel forces in Syria.

Just another day at work for Barack Milhouse Obama and John Kissinger Kerry.

As it turns out, the White House and State Department didn’t bother to brief anyone on Capitol Hill on their decision to reverse course and provide direct aid to the Syrian opposition, which will run $60 million. The decision will put “non-lethal” resources into the hands of a rebellion …

… and that will free up an equal amount of other “resources” to be used for lethal purposes.

When given to rebels and insurgents and terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah humanitarian aid is equivalent to giving them guns and ammo and explosives.

The lefties know this and would jump all over it if someone like Reagan or GWB did it. But, of course, “it’s different” when they do it.

farsighted on March 1, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Kerry’s statement about the “Right to be stupid in America” was incomplete.

In America, you have the right to be stupid, but you also have the right to have the responsible pay for your right to be stupid.

It’s the liberal way.

Nethicus on March 1, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Why does Obama always place blame on Congress ?

It is pretty clear he has no interest in talking to them.

Jabberwock on March 1, 2013 at 10:04 AM

He is a product of an American sub-culture that always blames someone else for everything wrong in their lives, in America, and in the world — liberals and lefties.

farsighted on March 1, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Kerry will be winging it for the next 31/2yrs .

Lucano on March 1, 2013 at 10:30 AM

The U.S. Senate confirmed a liar, a traitor, a hunk of junk, worthless kept man, and “bone” club member to the office of Sec. of State.

What they confirmed is what we already know.

The U.S. Senate is not our Senate any longer.

It is a go’fer for the two party evil money cult that now steals our liberty, our constitution, our very lives bit by bit.

Kerry knows, the members of the Senate know, we know, the GNN (Goebbles News Networks) know, hell his wife who pays him for influence in goverment knows, even worse his kids know how low he is and what do we do.

If we want to have a constitution, the rule of law, a civil society we will have to fight this cult of evil money for our freedom.

Our poor voteing records show as of now that we are not in the fight as we should be.

Kerry should be still in possession of his first DD-214, he should have been required to turn in all is fake by his own hands awards and citations, he should be tried for the treason he committed in Paris France when he met with members of the NVA and VC while still a Lt. in the U.S. Navy.

Other that those few things he is what he is.

Low life liar and coward.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on March 1, 2013 at 10:31 AM

U.S. Navy Reserve.

oops

APACHEWHOKNOWS on March 1, 2013 at 10:33 AM

The most compartmentalized administration, EVUH.

locomotivebreath1901 on March 1, 2013 at 10:39 AM

I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for secretary stuff or something.

fogw on March 1, 2013 at 10:39 AM

The country is about to implode from a 2.3% cut in future spending that’s not a cut, yet we’re going to give $60 million to people who don’t run a country?

Liam on March 1, 2013 at 10:09 AM

The Dems in Chicago are apoplectic about these inhuman and draconian cuts in the bankrupt state of Illinois’ spending plans …

The state stands to lose $357,000 for child vaccinations, $186,000 for HIV testing and $968,000 for public health threat response, according to the document, which identified cuts that would affect the state this year. But even those figures were confusing, Arnold said, because it was unclear how they were calculated and how they would be implemented. By Thursday afternoon, the department was still waiting for guidance from Washington…

Illinois public schools could lose $36.4 million in Title I funding for about 42,116 students, according to the Education Department. Chicago Public Schools alone would lose more than $9.6 million. In addition, the state would lose about $24.7 million in funding for teachers and staff who help children with disabilities, according to White House estimates…

Then, large airports like O’Hare International could see delays of up to 90 minutes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration…

And so on and so forth

Some seniors will starve and hospitals will be unable to treat dying people.

farsighted on March 1, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Why not build political support for that move, especially bipartisan support, that could be rolled out at the same time?

Why bother? King Obama doesn’t need support from the legislature. It’s just a waste of time. He’ll do whatever he wants, and there will be no adverse consequences (none for him, at least).

It’s good to be king!

AZCoyote on March 1, 2013 at 10:44 AM

But even those figures were confusing, Arnold said, because it was unclear how they were calculated

LOL. It’s not unclear how the figures were calculated: they were pulled out of some Dim-o-crat’s azz.

AZCoyote on March 1, 2013 at 10:46 AM

As it turns out, the White House and State Department didn’t bother to brief anyone on Capitol Hill on their decision to reverse course and provide direct aid to the Syrian opposition, which will run $60 million.

On 6 September 2012 – 5 days before the attack on the consulate in Benghazi – the Al Entisar, a Libyan-flagged vessel carrying 400-500 tonnes of cargo, docked in the Turkish port of Iskenderun – not far from the Syrian border. It carried humanitarian aid and arms — including deadly SA-7 man-portable SAMs and American-made Stinger missiles — apparently destined for Islamists, again including al Qaeda elements, in Syria.

Resist We Much on March 1, 2013 at 10:48 AM

That Ramirez cartoon Rocks!

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:50 AM

As it turns out, the White House and State Department didn’t bother to brief anyone on Capitol Hill on their decision to reverse course and provide direct aid to the Syrian opposition, which will run $60 million.

Silly Congress, dictators don’t need to ‘brief’ anyone about a damn thing, and they’d do well to remember their place – or they might regret it.

Midas on March 1, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Has Obama nominated Bo for any positions yet? I figure its just a matter of time. Would probably be an improvement over most, and almost certainly would receive unanimous approval from the Senate.

Midas on March 1, 2013 at 10:54 AM

Corker told The Hill that Republicans would likely have supported the decision, which makes the blindsiding all the more strange. Why not build political support for that move, especially bipartisan support, that could be rolled out at the same time?

Because Barky is all about destroying the GOP. He’s not even going to give them a chance to agree with him, lest they bask (even a little) in the reflected glory. He has too much already invested in the “it’s all the obstructionist GOP’s fault” meme to allow them to look even a little cooperative.

bofh on March 1, 2013 at 10:56 AM

“Ich bin ein stupid”

Mocking the language abilities of the Schwachkopf. It’s a twofer.

Dusty on March 1, 2013 at 11:09 AM

The problem is there’s a slush fund somewhere (with who knows how many billions of dollars in it) that the President can just use to throw money around. The Congress has long since given up its power of the purse but also law making when they delegate so much regulating power to out of control bureaucracies.

Fenris on March 1, 2013 at 11:10 AM

Halp us John Kerry, we are stuck in stupid America.

BL@KBIRD on March 1, 2013 at 11:15 AM

He is a product of an American sub-culture that always blames someone else for everything wrong in their lives, in America, and in the world — liberals and lefties.

Not so much a sub-culture any more but mainstream America, stemming from one or two generations now, who have been coddled and spoiled and made to believe nothing they do wrong is their fault with no personal responsibility or acceptance of the consequences for one’s actions. It’s always someone or something else to blame for failure.

hawkeye54 on March 1, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Silly Congress, dictators don’t need to ‘brief’ anyone about a damn thing, and they’d do well to remember their place – or they might regret it.

Given a little more time, no “might” about it.

hawkeye54 on March 1, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Kerry. A known quantity.

Lurch. Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. You rang?

There was a time when our leaders and international representatives presented authority, control, wisdom and intelligence. Certainly not so in the last four years and less so now.

Logus on March 1, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Has Obama nominated Bo for any positions yet? I figure its just a matter of time. Would probably be an improvement over most, and almost certainly would receive unanimous approval from the Senate.

Midas on March 1, 2013 at 10:54 AM

Hey, Caligula gave something similar a shot, so why not? Bo’s bite has to be more effective than Barry’s bark.

creekspecter on March 1, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Can someone remind me of the arguments that said voting for Romney was the same as voting for Obama again?

Thanks.

kim roy on March 1, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Kerry is what happens with ethics flat lines.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on March 1, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Perhaps Kerry still thinks he’s on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and that he told himself.

Mr. Arkadin on March 1, 2013 at 11:49 AM

“Ich bin ein stupid”

Mocking the language abilities of the Schwachkopf. It’s a twofer.

Dusty on March 1, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Can you translate that into Austrian?

Del Dolemonte on March 1, 2013 at 12:14 PM

“While having cocktails, I can see Islamabaddog, Burkini Fasoul, and Kyrzakhstan from the aft-deck of my yacht, which I had custom-built in New Zoolander and dock in Roadislandiki pour éviter l’impôt dans l’état du Massachoosetz. Taxes are for little people. Don’t you agree? I mean, n’est-ce-pas? Can I pardon you to pass the Grey Poupon?”

- Lurch

Resist We Much on March 1, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Ramirez is a genius!

Eren on March 1, 2013 at 12:45 PM

We are missing the point. Having won his second term, Obumbler wishes to show his contempt for Congress. He intends to rule, as emperor, without them. The gun control battle is just his way of deep sixing the Constitution.Stand by for his announcement (some way in the future) that he will be president for life. A la Chavez.

tngmv on March 1, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Halp us Jon Carry!

Dunedainn on March 1, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Gee these huge horrible cuts already kilt me yesterday.
See, we told you that people would die.

A wonderful one of DEM who really loves obumbles.

(Oopsie, did the obumbles give me away?)

losarkos on March 1, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Humm, good comments everyone.
I have a suggestion for King Putt: Why not nominate Bob Woodward for an ambassadorship?
I understand there is an opening in Libya.

Missilengr on March 1, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Hah, Ed. Kudos for using the “Ich bin ein stupid”.

Schadenfreude on March 1, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Halp us Jon Carry!

We are stuck here with idiots like you!

drunyan8315 on March 1, 2013 at 3:32 PM

So there are forces in Syria more radical then Assad, and the U S is going to support them. No surprise. Obama and Kerry are, as they say, reaching out, –to islamic murderers. Figures.

arand on March 1, 2013 at 3:56 PM

“Ich bin ein stupid”

Dusty on March 1, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Its in Austrian.

riddick on March 1, 2013 at 4:29 PM

$60 million worth of food and medicine

= $60,000,000 now freed up to buy guns and ammunition.

Tzetzes on March 1, 2013 at 11:08 PM