August 27, 2013
President Barack Obama President Obama (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

It may not have been as crude as President George W. Bush’s regrettable “bring them on” comment in July 2003, but President Obama’s ego-driven, naive remarks about a “red line” being crossed if chemical weapons are used in Syria are what has brought us to the brink today.

Does the United States have a policy calling for an attack if chemical weapons are used in a foreign civil war? Of course not. Obama went off-script and made that up. Only history will tell us if it was an ad-libbed flub or if the president understood the consequences of what he was saying. The White House had the chance to walk the comment back, but Team Obama instead circled the wagons and doubled down on the red line, never being able to admit that the president had made a mistake.

At this point, it looks like bombing something and someone in Syria is inevitable, even if the potential outcomes are unclear. We have no other choice because the personal credibility of the president of the United States is at stake.

The best possible outcome would be for a lucky strike to take out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Remember in July 2008 when then-senator Obama hit a three-pointer in front of U.S. troops during a campaign stop in Kuwait? Well, to the best of my knowledge, the president hasn’t hit one – even metaphorically – since. Obama’s opponents may have wished he had missed that shot, but we are all pulling for him now. Let’s all just hope for the best.

There is no political advantage to be gained for Republicans if this goes poorly. Nothing good could come from an American president’s credibility being eroded any further than it already is.

It’s times like these where the most dedicated members of President Obama’s liberal apologencia may come in handy. Many on the left will cover for the president, even if they would normally oppose such an intervention. No matter what happens in Syria, Obama’s apologists will undoubtedly try to whitewash whatever scorch marks or unintended consequences there are as a result of the president’s actions. Similarly, many on the right who have been clamoring for military action will support the president — at least in the near-term.

But right now, what is certain is that we don’t have a policy, we have very few reliable allies and our credibility is on the line; we could use some luck.

Follow Ed on Twitter:  @edrogersdc

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.
Continue reading