Obama buys time, makes his Syria pitch
Posted September 11, 2013
WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama made his case for military action in Syria on Tuesday night, he could take comfort that diplomacy may still offer the United States a face-saving out.
Last week, when he scheduled Tuesday's national address, few aides believed it would be the pivotal moment they needed to change public opinion and prompt Congress to grant him authority to use military force against Syria. Americans were weary of war and suspicious of any reason to take up arms once again in a faraway land.
"It was clear that the president didn't have the support of Congress or the support of the American people," said NC Rep. George Holding (R-13th).
On Tuesday, Obama still made a case for striking at the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, invoking the image of hundreds gassed by chemical weapons on Aug. 21 in the outskirts of Damascus and the anguish of a father "clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk." Obama still laid the blame on Assad, making the case he has been making for two weeks that the regime was responsible for launching sarin gas that killed more than 1,400, including more than 400 children.
Assad has blamed the attack on opposition forces and struck a confrontational pose against the United States.
But the tenuous diplomatic path that Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have opened to secure Syria's chemical weapons bought time and eased the pressure on both Congress and Obama to act.
Democrat David Price (NC-4th) said that doesn't mean the crisis is over. "There's no reason for Congress to act right now, but there well may be," he said.
Among the members of the North Carolina delegation, the line is blurred. Representatives are united in their concern over chemical weapons and share a reserved hope for a diplomatic solution.
Price said, "My reading of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle around here is there's a fervent hope that diplomatic efforts will succeed, and the main point of course is to lift this threat of chemical weapons."
For Republican Holding, a delay could hurt Obama's credibility. "I think it's unfortunate that the president has had the vacillating foreign policy," he said.