Tuesday, September 10, 2013

McConnell Opposes Syria Strike

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell gave a truly brilliant speech today outlining why he opposes the administration's request for an authorization of force to bomb Syria -- including a shout out to Kentuckians who in recent days have not been shy about voicing to him their deep skepticism of the proposed strike.

 This speech was presidential in the quality of the rhetoric, statesmanlike in the way he set the context and outlined his reasoning.  In many ways, the speech seemed like a well-crafted judicial opinion. McConnell laid out the strengths and weaknesses of both sides and then explained the standard by which he made his decision:  the use of chemical weapons in Syria did not threaten America or any of our treaty allies.

McConnell schooled Obama for five years of incoherent foreign policy, beginning with the Obama Apology Tour. His criticism of how Obama has conducted America's relations with the rest of the world was just scathing, particularly for the precise, methodical way McConnell built his case. And McConnell castigated Obama's "ham-fisted roll out" of the proposed strike, saying "you don't send a save the date card before you attack," to paraphrase.

His opposition to the request for authorization to strike Syria should not be read to mean that McConnell is now an isolationist.  To the contrary, he emphasized that he considers himself an internationalist; he made the case for American exceptionalism in Reaganesque terms. The problem here (aside from Obama's sheer incompetence) is that the proposed strike is unlinked to any broader strategy to protect or promote America's interests.

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