Ed warned you this morning, so we all knew that John Kerry was doing the Full Ginsburg for Sunday morning. The topic, of course, was the President’s sudden about-face on letting Congress make the call on attacking Syria. It was bound to be a tough sell, but I don’t think anyone expected things to go as badly as they did when he talked to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, so you should really see the video here if you missed it.
It’s a roughly 12 minute interview, but if you want to jump straight to the opening volley of the fireworks, skip to the two minute mark of the video below. Kerry is busy trying to spin the I-Formation hand-off from POTUS to the Congress as a “big gain” as the world receives the “legitimacy of the full throated response of the Congress of the United States and the President acting together after our democratic process has worked properly.” Wallace is having none of it.
Chris Wallace: But Mr. Secretary, this isn’t CSI. This isn’t a civics lesson. People’s lives are at stake, as I don’t have to tell you, on the ground in Syria. In your remarks on Friday you said that this matters, and it matters beyond the borders of Syria. Take a look.
[Insert video from Friday]
CW: Mr. Secretary, what message are we sending to Iran and Hezbollah and North Korea when the President announces that he thinks that we should take military action, but he’s going to wait nine days for Congress to come back before he takes any action, and then he goes off and plays a round of golf? What message does that send to the rebels on the ground whose lives are in danger and to our enemies who are watching?
Secretary of State John Kerry: I think actually North Korea and Iran ought to take note that the United States of America has the confidence in its democratic process to be able to ask all of the American people to join in an action that could have profound implications with respect to Iran. The fact is that if we act, and if we act in concert, then Iran will know that this nation is capable of speaking with one voice on something like this, and that has serious, profound implications, I think, with respect to the potential of a confrontation over their nuclear program. That is one of the things that is at stake here. You just quoted it. That and America’s willingness to enforce the international norm on chemical weapons. I think we are stronger. The President thinks we are stronger when the Congress of the United States joins in this. I mean, Congress can’t have it both ways. You can’t sit there and say you’ve got to consult with us and honor the constitutional process, and Congress has the right to make its voice heard in these decisions, and the President is giving them that opportunity, and I think you should welcome it, Chris. And the Congress and the country should welcome this.
CW: But Mr. Secretary…
JK: It’s an important debate, and we do not lose anything militarily in the meantime.
CW: But the refugees on the ground lose something, sir. They lose with the possibility that they’re going to get killed in the meantime. Let me just, if I may, follow up.
I omitted all of the “ummms, uhs” and pauses from Kerry’s answers as per usual standards, but you have to see it to get the full flavor. It goes downhill from there. Let’s cut to the video, and then come back for a bit of different coverage.
The panel discussion before the interview is also worth a look. It covers many of the same scenes with a variety of opinions. But if there is one take from the opposite side which is at least worth a chuckle, it’s brought up by a panelist who quotes Axlerod from Twitter. On Obama’s decision to let Congress decide after so many of them insisted he needed their approval before going to war, he described the President as essentially turning Congress into “the dog that caught the car.”
Discuss at your leisure.