Brawl Over Syria an 'Uphill Slog,' 'Amateur Hour'

White House tries to make its case as GOP roars

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 8, 2013 2:19 PM CDT

(Newser) – It was all Syria, all the time on the Sunday talk circuit today, with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough hitting all five networks in making the administration's case for action. "The question is very simple for Congress this week... Not a single (member of Congress) rebuts the intelligence," McDonough said, according to Politico. "So, the question for them is, should (Assad) be held to account for carrying out this activity?" The United States' answer, he said, "will be followed in Tehran, will be followed in Damascus, will be followed by Hezbollah." Republicans, meanwhile, picked apart the White House, with Karl Rove calling its push "amateur hour at the White House" and arguing that Obama's decision to consult Congress on the strike has taken all the momentum out of the plan. He clarifies that he originally “thought that (Obama) needed to take it to Congress but, in retrospect, that was a mistake." Elsewhere on the Sunday debate over action in Syria, as per Politico:

  • Rep. Mike Rogers: "I think it's an uphill slog from here. It's a confusing mess," and the White House has "done an awful job" in making its case.
  • Sen. Rand Paul: “When I see the horror of the attacks, my first impulse that is whoever would order that deserves death. Someone who is a war criminal who would execute citizens and kill innocent people with any kind of weapon deserves death." But, "I don’t think we’re going to do anything to Assad."
  • Sen. Tom Udall: "I’m very disappointed that the administration has given up on the United Nations and rallying the world. We haven't exhausted all of our political, economic and diplomatic alternatives. We ought to be rallying the world. Because all the world agrees, you shouldn’t use chemical weapons."
  • Rep. Pete King: “I just wish the president had laid this out better. I wish he’d quit backing away from his own red line. And I wish he was more of a commander in chief than a community organizer. I can’t imagine Harry Truman or John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan or Dwight Eisenhower ever putting the nation in a position like this on a military policy."
  • Sen. Ted Cruz: “This attack is not based on defending US national security. It’s not based on defending Americans or our allies. Rather, it is explicitly framed by President Obama, by Secretary Kerry, as a defense of what they call international norms. I don’t think that’s the job of our military, to be defending amorphous international norms."

Karl Rove supported the White House's push to seek congressional approval to strike Syria, but now thinks that was a mistake.
Karl Rove supported the White House's push to seek congressional approval to strike Syria, but now thinks that was a mistake.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
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