To be fair, Chris Matthews isn’t actually endorsing this argument, but suggesting that it’s the only reason Democrats have to back up Barack Obama’s demand for military strikes on Syria. In fact, once you get past the blizzard of colorful analogies Matthews fires off to set up his argument — including a strange compliment to Joe Scarborough for hitting all the “erogenous zones in this fight” in his set-up — Matthews in fact deplores the “wicked” conundrum that Obama has imposed on his party:
“Let’s go all the way down to the final stretch here,” Matthews said. “You’ve got [John] Boehner trying to corral enough votes that he can at least dribble out a few of them, and Pelosi stuck with the challenge of a minority caucus where she has to deliver a majority vote. You’re watching Boehner there dribbling out a few votes here and there, as the clock ticks down to zero, and she has to make up the difference. If you have the Hastert Rule in effect, I don’t think you even have this vote, but apparently it won’t be in effect.”
“So you’ll have minority Republican vote, and Pelosi’s going to have to make up the difference with the minority caucus. She’s going to have to come in with a supermajority of Democrats to support their Democratic president. This is a wicked position they have put her in. Maybe she can meet the standard. But I don’t know whether [Chief of Staff Denis] McDonough and the president walking along the south lawn the other day were thinking about the endgame.”
“I think the Democrats are going to be forced to sacrifice men and women who really, really don’t want to vote for this,” Matthews concluded. “They’re going to have to vote for it to save the president’s hide. That’s a bad position to put your party in.”
That’s not exactly a tingle-fest, and furthermore, Matthews is correct. This is the credibility argument rather than an argument that strikes would have the intended effect and that our policy is sound and well-applied. Note well that Matthews didn’t even bother to offer that as an argument for Democrats to support another military intervention, the most unilateral by America since capturing Manuel Noriega from Panama.