Obama deigns to lobby members for Syria vote
To say that President Obama is not a "hands on" president is to state the obvious. Every single major piece of legislation that has passed Congress in the last 5 years has had limited input from the White House. And as far as I know, the lobbying shop has never - or rarely - used the president's clout to take to the phone and personally lobby members of Congress.
That's apparently about to change. With the relevancy of his presidency on the line, the White House is going to "flood the zone" and utilize every major figure in the administration to lobby Congress to approve military action against Syria - including the president and vice president.
THE 1 PARAGRAPH TO READ - WHITE HOUSE INVOKING IRAN IN PITCH TO LAWMAKERS: With morning news coverage reporting that President Obama could lose his Syria vote, White House officials are embarking on a massive, member-by-member lobbying surge. "The strategy will be to flood the zone," a White House official told Playbook. "We want every member to feel briefed, to have everything they need, to have every question answered. In-person visits, one-on-one phone calls, conference calls, classified briefings, unclassified briefings - everything is on the menu." Yesterday, in addition to a classified briefing by administration officials at the Capitol, Obama, Vice President Biden and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough made individual calls to House and Senate members. Obama meets today with Sen. John McCain and White House officials plan more individual calls, on top of a conference call for House Democrats.
Tomorrow at the White House, POTUS will meet with chairs and ranking members from national-security committees -- Senate Armed Services, Senate Foreign Relations, Senate Intelligence, House Foreign Affairs, House Intelligence and House Armed Services. Aides will continue the push in Washington after Obama leaves for Sweden and Russia tomorrow evening.
The White House official said: "In all calls and briefings, we will be making the same fundamental case: The failure to take action against Assad unravels the deterrent impact of the international norm against chemical weapons use, and it risks emboldening Assad and his key allies - Hezbollah and Iran - who will see that there are no consequences for such a flagrant violation of an international norm. Anyone who is concerned about Iran and its efforts in the region should support this action."
Just as a contrast to Obama's lack of personal lobbying over the past five years, Ronald Reagan - 20 years older and widely ridiculed as "lazy" - made more than 300 phone calls and entertained dozens of personal visits from members of both parties to get his tax bill through in 1982. I may be wrong but I can't recall any such effort by Obama - even for the passage of Obamacare.
Obama is fighting for his presidency and has decided to humble himself to talk with mere congressmen about Syria. It will probably work because even the president's most ardent foes in Congress don't want to emasculate the presidency along with the president. For all the talk on the Hill today about opposing the resolution, it is likely almost all Democrats and many Republicans will end up voting for the resolution.