Not much surprises me on talk radio — if conservative is defined as “a preference for the predictable” — then talk radio is even more conservative than its politics makes it sound. But I have been a little surprised at just how vehement opposition has been to attacking Syria. Sean Hannity, talk radio’s warmonger-in-chief, has just been all over it, for every imaginable reason (imaginable, that is, so long as what can be imagined reflects badly on Obama). He even had on a couple of congressmen who opposed attacking Syria because they thought we should be attacking Iran instead. Huckabee just dismissed the whole idea of attacking Syria as wacky.
Well, well. I’m damned if I know how best to deal with the Syrian mess. I have also sorts of thoughts, some of them incompatible:
1. I definitely agree that Congress, not the president, should make this call. Attacking Syria would be a clear-cut act of war, and there is no doubt who the founders thought should make decisions about going to war. If other countries complain that we look weak or slow because this process takes so long, then I would reply: So how’s your government worked out over the last couple of hundred years?
2. I support the ban on chemical weapons even though some pretty smart people point out that killing people with chemical weapons isn’t really much different from killing them with other kinds of weapons. True. But the chemical weapons ban takes one ugly weapon off the battlefield, which is at least some kind of progress. I hate to give that progress up, so some sort of retaliation appears to be in order.
3. But what? Heck if I know. The United Nations, ideally, but that pretty clearly is not going to happen. I recoil at the thought of us acting unilaterally, against the will of the people and much of Congress. Ordinary sorts of diplomatic sanctions and blockades don’t seem likely to help. Military action could boil up all sorts of unintended consequences.
4. So give me a bully pulpit and command of U.S. forces and what would I do? Probably about what Obama is doing: Make my best case to Congress, then secretly hope Congress stops me from doing anything. At least there would be the consolation of knowing that I was doing something Hannity didn’t like.