President Obama will speak to the nation on Tuesday on Syria in the face of a very real possibility that his call for authorization of the use of military force will be rejected by a large majority in the House of Representatives. That’s what Politico reporters John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman report, while The Hill’s whip count shows 31 House members committed or leaning to voting yes and 115 committed or leaning to voting no. The Real Clear Politics whip count is even more stark: 33 yes or leaning yes, 195 no or leaning no. That 195 is not much short of a 218-vote majority.
Among Republicans, RCP has only 10 as yes or leaning yes and 144 as no or leaning no. Liberal Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent reports that House Democratic aides who see a path to a yes majority believe that 90 to 100 Republicans will vote yes. That assumes that every House Republican listed currently as undecided will vote yes. That seems utterly delusional to me. More likely the White House is going to need at least 170 of the 201 Democrats to vote yes — which means that it has to switch some of the 51 Democrats currently listed as no or leaning no.
As the usually even-tempered Walter Russell Mead writes, “An effective leader would have consulted with key people in Congress and made sure of his backing before making explicit threats of force.” Evidently President Obama did nothing of the kind. Astonishing.