President Barack Obama will step up his campaign to win public support for a Syrian intervention today, shortly before he flies to an international summit in Europe.
He has scheduled a 9:45 a.m. meeting with congressional leaders in the White House’s cabinet room, where Obama is likely to make another pitch for a military response to the Aug. 21 nerve gas attack by the Syrian government on civilians in the capital city of Damascus.
The cabinet-room appearance allows Obama to deliver a statement without having to answer pointed questions.
Obama will fly out to Sweden at 8:45 p.m. this evening, prior to attending the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Obama’s new “flood the zone” lobbying blitz comes amid claims of hypocrisy, political gamesmanship and incompetence, plus worries about political and military risks that may block his demands for passage of a congressional resolution authorizing the use of force in Syria.
Public polls show weak support for any attack, and many worry about getting entangled in the Syrian civil war.
On Saturday, he sent a draft resolution to the Hill. If passed, it would give Obama much leeway to attack the Syrian military and government.
The language of the resolution says “the president is authorized to use the Armed Force of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict or to … prevent or deter the use or proliferation of any weapons of mass destruction.”
Congressional leaders may draft a new resolution that authorizes a narrower set of options.
But Obama is facing much opposition, partly because of his history of political hardball against Republican politicians and priorities.
In 2008, he ran for president while slamming President George W. Bush for invading Iraq without adequate international approval or reliable intelligence. But Obama is now pushing to strike the Syrian government without the support of close allies, such as the U.K. and Canada, or the United Nations.
Since 2010, Obama has sidelined Congress by pushing ahead with controversial or arguably illegal policies, such as granting a pre-election partial amnesty for younger illegal immigrants, or delaying portions or the Obamacare law. Obama and his allies justified the unilateral actions by the officials by saying he “wouldn’t wait” for his Republican opponents in the House.