Given the “success” his speeches have had in boosting ObamaCare’s popularity, this should pretty well finish off the “bomb Syria” movement.
President Obama is considering a high-profile address to the nation on the need for military intervention in Syria — a speech that could come as early as this week — according to top lawmakers and administration officials.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said today there is no speech planned at this point, but that Obama is looking at “multiple opportunities” to make the case directly to Congress and the American people.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that he has “no doubt” the president will make a speech from the Oval Office in the coming days…
“I think the president needs to sit in the Oval Office, look at every American in the eye, and explain the reason why this is important,” Menendez said on “Morning Joe.” ”And I think he’ll do that.”
Meanwhile, over at ABC, the whip count is up to … 217 likely no’s in the House:
— Rick Klein (@rickklein) September 5, 2013
The point of the speech, I think, isn’t to move public opinion, it’s to give reluctant Democrats and hawkish Republicans a pretext to vote yes on “principle.” There may be a spike for military action among the population after the speech, as usually happens when the president beats the war drums, but you’re never going to see solid, sustained support for hitting Syria. The goal here is to move Congress, not the people it ostensibly represents. Ed was chatting about that on Twitter today with lefty Greg Sargent, in fact: Both of them were skeptical about the various whip counts being passed around for the simple reason that O hasn’t played all of his cards, like a major national address, yet. Sargent reasoned, not implausibly, that a lot of the bluster coming from the House from members about probably voting no is just kabuki designed to impress the intervention skeptics in their respective bases. Once the White House briefs them formally on Syria and Obama delivers his Oval Office (or East Room) speech, they can turn around and say that, despite their misgivings, they’ve been persuaded by the president and by the intelligence that the U.S. must act. And then, if things go bad, they can blame the whole thing on O. It’s one thing to vote for war enthusiastically when the public’s against it, it’s another to do it after a big show of hemming and hawing and worrying about international coalitions, blah blah. If Sargent’s right, most of the congressional skepticism you’re seeing this week is simply theater aimed at showing voters that Congress is as war-weary as everyone else is. Although maybe not so weary to refuse to support another war.
By the way, for what it’s worth, WaPo’s own whip count already has eight Republicans in the Senate voting with Obama for military action. There’s lots of heavy breathing on Twitter over the past hour that Joe “No Labels” Manchin has decided to vote no, but who cares? Reid will get to 60.
Here’s KP with a modest suggestion for something else Obama should announce during his Syria speech.