Send In the Clowns: Congress Takes Up the Syria Debate

If you thought Congress -- particularly the current House Republicans, whose goal throughout their entire tenure has been to deny Barack Obama anything at all that he wants, naked hypocrisy or a direct contradiction of their own policy proposals be damned -- was going to suddenly grow up because U.S. combat was the subject at hand, you're nuts. So what you get is John Kerry and Chuck Hagel having to sit there for hours at a time fielding questions from people who may as well be stuffing bananas in their mouths and throwing their own shit at the walls.
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If you thought Congress -- particularly the current House Republicans, whose goal throughout their entire tenure has been to deny Barack Obama anything at all that he wants, naked hypocrisy or a direct contradiction of their own policy proposals be damned -- was going to suddenly grow up because U.S. combat was the subject at hand, you're nuts. So what you get is John Kerry and Chuck Hagel having to sit there for hours at a time fielding questions from people who may as well be stuffing bananas in their mouths and throwing their own shit at the walls.
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Agree with his policies or not, it's nearly impossible for anyone with a semi-functional brain to deny that in almost any interaction with his counterparts in Congress, Barack Obama is generally the most adult one in the room. If you pare that down to just the Republicans in Congress, he's the pretty much the only adult in the room. It's with this in mind that watching the debate over Syria on Capitol Hill for the past couple of days has been one big exercise in exasperation.

On an intellectual level, you can appreciate the steps Obama is taking to ensure that Congress has a say in whether America attacks Bashar al-Assad's regime. But on a gut level, you can't help but think that letting a group of people that fucking stupid and consumed by their own petty obsessions and grudges in on the process here is a recipe for disaster. It would be nice to believe that Congress could behave the way it's supposed to when something like this becomes an issue facing our country: that it was capable of putting aside party grievances and staunchly divisive politics in favor of helping to shoulder the burden of this decision on behalf of all Americans. Even a cursory look back over the last five years will break you of that kind of wide-eyed optimism pretty quick, though.

If you thought Congress -- particularly the current House Republicans, whose goal throughout their entire tenure has been to deny Barack Obama anything at all that he wants, naked hypocrisy or a direct contradiction of their own policy proposals be damned -- was going to suddenly grow up because U.S. combat was the subject at hand, you're nuts. So what you get is John Kerry and Chuck Hagel having to sit there for hours at a time fielding questions from people who may as well be stuffing bananas in their mouths and throwing their own shit at the walls. You get pompous posturing on the Hill and in front of whichever cable news camera they can stick their ugly mugs from guys who probably couldn't find Syria on a map without a cheat sheet. You get ham-handed soliloquies aimed not at the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the President, their fellow Congresspersons, or anyone else involved in the actual process of using U.S. military might but at the 17 yokels back home in their heavily gerrymandered district who sent them to Washington (and from whom they'll soon be seeking reelection).

In short, you get Jeff Duncan. As in Republican South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan, who couldn't resist the opportunity to turn a hearing into whether America will attack Syria into an episode of The Five. He busted out all the greatest tracks from the conservative conspiracy theory hit parade: Benghazi, Fast & Furious, the IRS's supposed targeting of Tea Party groups, the NSA. Hell, he even quoted Nietzsche -- let me repeat: a South Carolina Republican quoted a syphilitic Nazi who said that God is dead -- doing what I have to admit is a pretty decent impression of Howard Johnson from Blazing Saddles.

Really, this has to be seen to be believed. Duncan makes you immediately want to punch his voice in the balls.

There's nothing wrong with saying you don't want to go to war in Syria. There is something wrong, however, with turning a vital discussion of the subject into a farce because you're an idiot who has no idea what the hell he's talking about when it comes to a life-and-death subject but simply revels in the attention and approval he can get spouting shibboleths to the insanely faithful on national television.

Barack Obama deserves praise for doing the honorable thing and refusing to allow the executive branch to go it completely alone in deciding to use military force against a foreign country. It's just a shame that means involving Congress.