Chicago Tribune: 'the most puzzling, and potentially disastrous, week of the Obama presidency'

The Chicago Tribune is not as liberal as some other big city newspapers. It was, after all, one of the leading GOP boosters in the country when owned by Colonel Robert McCormick.

But there is little doubt that they have been cheerleading for their hometown favorite son for 5 years. And that's what makes this editorial so stunning:

So what if Congress says ... no?

What if lawmakers join their counterparts in the British House of Commons in nixing any military action against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad? Will the president order a military strike anyway, or will he back off, as British Prime Minister David Cameron did last week?

Cameron suffered a serious political blow. Can Obama just say, "Never mind"?

He bought himself some time to figure that out, too. Congress does not return to Washington until Sept. 9. Note that Obama did not, at least publicly, ask congressional leaders to return sooner for a resolution of this crisis.

So ended the most puzzling, and potentially disastrous, week of the Obama presidency.

He failed to muster world support for a military response on Syria. He failed to convince the American public of the value in such action. He sent Secretary of State John Kerry out twice to issue broad declarations that the U.S. was prepared to act forcefully, but he gave away military advantage by assuring the world -- and Bashar Assad -- that the U.S. response would be quite limited. Moreover, Assad gained the opportunity to protect his troops and materiel by filtering them into the civilian population.

In the speech Saturday, Obama called the Syrian poison gas attack "an assault on human dignity" that "presents a serious danger to our national security. It risks making a mockery on the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. It endangers our friends and our partners along Syria's borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons, or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm. In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted."

Much of the world continues to shrug.

So Obama will wait for Congress, where the odds of support for the president are middling at best. He may wait for a final U.N. inspectors' report on the attacks, though that could take several weeks.

Perhaps the scales have started to fall from at least some eyes in the media.

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