I’ve got a problem. And so do many of my politically minded friends.
It is no secret that I am a true blue-blooded Democrat. What is more, I have been an ardent supporter of President Obama from the beginning of his first campaign until now. He is the polar star around which my political universe rotates. He says jump and I will only ask, “How high?”
I know that any single departure from his agenda will jeopardize other important things he wants to accomplish. It is therefore with some pain and profound misgivings that I have and will continue to oppose his plan to attack Syria, no matter how circumscribed the nature of the bombardment.
The split in his party caused by those who take this position can only thwart progress and seriously disable the rest of his presidency. And yet for reasons I have spelled out in two previous columns, I oppose his passionate drive to involve the nation in yet another civil war. It is wrong morally, and it is wrong for peace and stability in the Near East. So my argument is not only with the administration but also with political friends who believe that failure to support the president is simply disloyal. So be it.
I have also noted that there is a handful of Republicans who are supporting Obama’s call to arms. Most of them are longtime hawks whose only criticism has been the modest scale of the proposed attacks. They call for a bombardment that will make a difference in that ongoing war. But they are convinced that some military action is better then doing nothing. It must be difficult for them to support his position on Syria. But they are of the persuasion that party politics must stop at the water’s edge and therefore believe the president’s plan, apart from any party loyalty, is the right thing to do. Without agreeing with them, I applaud the consistency behind their conclusion.
But then there are the substantial number of Republican politicians who are longtime hawks and who consistently have supported military action whenever it has been suggested by presidents of either party. But now they stand with those of us in rejecting Obama’s proposal. Only a casual look at their voting records makes even clearer the obvious. Opposition to Obama trumps all other considerations. If he is for it, it must be wrong! They refuse to support anything the president puts forward. Injuring the president is more important than agreeing to his war cry
Politics is an honest aspect of democratic government. Without party loyalty not much could be accomplished by anyone. That is the nature of our form of government. But to oppose what by every other standard one favors in order to injure a president is not only bad politics but also bad partisanship. T.S. Eliot put it this way: “The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason” ("Murder in the Cathedral").
I want the president to lose this argument because I believe that it would be the best thing for the nation and the world. Others want him to lose it because that would cause grave political damage to the rest of his term. Now that there is a pause in any action either by Congress or the president, it is time to find some agreeable alternative to another war.
Corrections: on Sept 11 I suggested that the U.S. Army used mustard gas in Korea. My evidence was probably too limited to make that claim. In the same column I states that Napalm is still being made by Dow Chemical. Its manufacture was terminated following the Vietnam War.