A just-released poll by CNN reveals that President Obama's strongest argument for congressional authorization of an attack on Syria does not carry much weight with the public. Paul Steinhauser and John Helton of CNN write:
The CNN/ORC International poll released Monday shows that even though eight in 10 Americans believe that Bashar al-Assad's regime gassed its own people, a strong majority doesn't want Congress to pass a resolution authorizing a military strike against it.
More than seven in 10 say such a strike would not achieve significant goals for the U.S. and a similar amount say it's not in the national interest for the U.S. to get involved in Syria's bloody two-year-long civil war.
These results indicate that in his six interviews today and his speech tomorrow, President Obama must explain how a contemplated strike would work out. Oops! There's the small matter of a Russian flotilla headed for Syria, and the vows of the mullahs in Iran to take revenge. What if his attack generates a response? And how likely is it that it won't? The appearance of weakness and hesitation over the past ten days is provocative, telling adversaries that Obama has no guts.
Even if he somehow reverses the tide and manages to get Congressional approval, things don't look good for Obama:
"Congressional approval would help Obama a little, but a majority would still oppose airstrikes against military targets in Syria," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "If Congress authorizes military action, 55% of Americans would still oppose airstrikes."
And if Congress votes down authorization:
More than seven in 10 say they would oppose U.S. airstrikes against Syria if Congress does not pass a resolution authorizing such action.
There is considerable danger for members of Congress if the vote for authorization. Even though "most" (51%? CNN does not say):
... of those questioned said that how their members of Congress voted on the resolution wouldn't affect how they voted in future elections, but the remainder by a nearly 3-1 margin said they would be more likely to vote against the lawmakers if they supported the resolution.
The problem for Obama with the opposition to an attack is that those who care about it care deeply. On the left, the antiwar movement could easily spawn not just primary challenges, but third party general election opposition for Democrats who vote yes.
What a mess a Obama has created! More gasbaggery is unlikely to help.