CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, right, and other protestors hold up signs during the Capitol Hill hearing involving Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press) Maybe this’ll work.  (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

If there’s anything worse America can do for its standing in the world, E.J. Dionne writes for the oped page, it’s to let domestic political squabbling paralyze foreign policy action. If Congress’s knee-jerk anti-Obama sentiments keep him from taking action in the wider world, it’s going to make us look dumb. All of us.

A representative of the knee-jerk anti-Obama sentimentalists responds:


The only thing that should be on trial is Barack Obama—specifically before the Senate after impeachment in the House. This incompetent is mired in scandal; ignores the Constitution; and has lied repeatedly to the American people beginning with his pretending to be the anti-Bush and emerging as Bush on steroids. We cannot afford three-plus more years of his arrogance, incompetence and coterie of poor advisers such as Jarrett, Holder, and Kerry.

So that’s unlikely to change. Other commenters regret our political paralysis but are glad it’s impeding military action on Syria:


I have no doubt that the motivations of many in Congress are ignoble. However, if the desire to obstruct keeps us from attacking Syria then I’m all for it.


I don’t want his presidency to go down the tubes, either, but doing what he is proposing will not send any message except that we have no clue what we are doing.
At some point, one of these Arab nations is going to have to figure out on its own how they want to govern and provide for its people. Bombing them for a few days is not going to help them achieve that goal, or enhance our security interests over there. Getting us entangled in another unending mess surely will doom his presidency, so sitting this one out is an easy choice. And please, let’s stop pretending that we occupy some exalted moral high ground here. We napalmed Vietnam into oblivion along with tons of Agent Orange. How does the use of those agents and weapons not fall into the “chemical” category that the world has drawn this “red line” around?

Beeliever is beewildered at our sudden political topsy-turvydom:

One thing is for sure, Republicans are quickly losing their reputation as the party that promotes national defense as their biggest strength.

Which in turn is making other readers suspicious that Obama is throwing his fight with Congress because he secretly does not want to bomb Syria:


I think it’s time to consider the possibility that Obama sought permission from Congress that he knew he was unlikely to get – an outcome that allows him to pass the buck. In the future, look for this refusal to be cited by E.J. and others in the Obama Fan Boy Club as proof that Obama’s failures can be attributed to an uncooperative Congress.


Obama said, and still says, that he has the authority to act without Congressional approval. This says much more about the cowardice of the President to act than the political division of the congress. I suspect he secretly hopes that they vote against so he can blame them for his own inaction.

Get that? Obama is tricking Congress into voting against his proposed strikes by telling them he can do it without them.

And cbl55 has a long comment that was one of the few agreeing with Dionne: There still aren’t any good options, and we all need to take this more seriously than we do our opinions of Obama.

I couldn’t agree more. There are so many people in Washington who profit from the current state of dysfunction and paralysis and second-rate behavior we see all around. Treat a dangerous, unpredictable situation with the respect it deserves, rather than use it to once again construct some idiotic ideological box .
Obama has made plenty of mistakes and tactical goofs, and many of us find him to be weak, un-forceful and vacillating at precisely the wrong moments. Yet he operates in the moral no-mans-land left in the wake of his predecessor. The wreckage and paralysis left behind by the arrogance, incompetence and bungling of slam-dunk shock and awe has infected us for years to come. Democrats are still fighting the last war, while Republicans are fighting imaginary, delusional ones against Obamacare, so great is their single-minded hatred of everything connected with the President.
We need better than this from everyone. The stakes of getting it wrong are frighteningly high. There are good, sound reasons both to disagree with the President as well as to agree with him. But no one will uncover the right reasons for either position without jettisoning lunacy and cynicism both.

At publishing time, it seemed potentially that Vladimir Putin’s government had actually solved the whole thing diplomatically. It’s nice to know that was apparently more likely than us jettisoning our lunacy and cynicism.