The GOP is So Forked
On Saturday, President Obama, in what can only be characterized as a display of some of the most powerful political gamesmanship ever witnessed, turned the Syrian debacle, into a strength. The President took a step back from the brink of unilateral action, of Bush/Cheney militarism, of cowboy politics and egomania and in one bold and brilliant move he told the country that he was the man we thought he was, worthy of our faith—oh, and he completely forked the GOP.
In chess, a fork is when a player can, from a safe position, strike at two of his opponent’s pieces. The opponent is left the choice of moving one piece to safety and losing the other.
The President, by asking Congress to approve his plan to bomb Syria, gives the GOP a choice of losing by supporting the President and thus taking ownership of the war while concomitantly agreeing to fund the endeavor, or losing by not supporting the President and thus taking ownership of the slaughter in Syria, the resultant chaos and the resultant loss of American power as we try and leverage Iran, North Korea and Russia. Either way they lose—which is why they are so completely totally forked.
There are several things that are demonstrably true.
The GOP has been unwilling to govern since President Obama won the first term in 2008. They abrogated their responsibility on the Stimulus Bill of 2009, which passed with almost no Republicans voting for this key legislation which ostensibly saved the U.S. economy. They tapped out and ignored, or worse actively blocked and worked against, several of the key Civil Rights initiatives of the 21st century. From LGBT rights to sexual assault in the military, the GOP has been silent, obstructionist, or downright bat-shit crazy.
- The GOP has become more and more reactionary—saying no to their own, long-held legislative priorities simply because they were proposed by President Obama. The GOP has repeatedly gone against its own interests and voting patterns they have embraced since the 1970s. Like when they gutted military spending rather than compromised to head off the Sequester. Or when they stalled important foreign policy initiatives like the START II Treaty and until, in a 67-28 voted to ratify the measure. While 67 seems like a big vote given GOP insanity, in reality it takes two thirds to pass treaties and 67 votes is a one vote cushion.
- The domestic scandal-mongering of both the IRS and Benghazi, has highlighted a clear line of unwillingness to participate in even the most reasonable discussions on domestic and foreign policy matters. This manifested most recently with the loose Impeachment talk where even Senator Coburn, both a hyper-conservative and friend of the President, entertained this madness as though it were reasonable and the President had committed some High Crime or Misdemeanor of Office.
- The looming shutdown and default of the U.S. Government as a hostage-taking maneuver by the GOP further demonstrated that the Republicans are completely unreasonable and dysfunctional in terms of operating as a party.
All of that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Into that mess, the President threw a political nuke, armed with the most sacred duty of the Congress: war. Authorizing the use of force, sending our young men and women, heroes all, into life and death situations.
We can argue that the campaign will most likely be one of remote control—that is, bombs and drones rather than boots. But the truth is that once you start shooting, you have to be prepared to put people in harm’s way. Since George W. Bush, with Democratic complicity I might add, shifted the focus from Afghanistan to Iraq, the GOP has demonstrated nothing that leads me to believe they are capable, willing, or intelligent enough to make an informed, non-political, good-of-the-country decision.
In the last five years nothing they have done gives me hope that the GOP will act wisely or with the best interests of the nation on Syria; this will simply become another attempt to humiliate President Obama.
The President’s fork has forced the GOP to either seriously take up the largest foreign policy issue of the last five years by launching yet another War with a capital “W” or complete their descent into madness with a vote refusal—proving themselves to be cake-eaters and dilettantes, incapable and ultimately unworthy of governance, trust, and rule.
A shorter version: either the GOP stops acting like assholes and gets into the game or they go the way of the Whigs, who made a similar mistake during a crucial moment in history and vanished. Like I said—completely forked.
J. Christian Watts
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