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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Worse Than Bad But Better Than Expected

I'm glad US bombardment of Syria has been postponed. Not bombing is always better than bombing. I still expect bombing will take place, but every day is a day in which unexpected developments may change those expectations. Even if Obama denies he is setting a precedent here, his action constitutes one nevertheless, and for the first time in a long time the Executive is at any rate notionally ceding back to the Congress some of its proper Constitutional role authorizing war that has been anti-democratically commandeered by the Commander-in-Chief role into the ever more Unitary Executive in serial administrations. That Congress is being forced to take up public positions and make public votes over what comes next will probably spotlight its fecklessness and dysfunction, but it will also curb the all criticism all the time free-for-all from the peanut (emphasis on the nut) gallery as well as strengthen the Democratic position in upcoming budget talks (since it's harder to defend the sequester and government shutdown shenanigans when you are playing at being serious in wartime), and even lock many Republicans into explicit support of a President they have sought so far to delegitimize any and every outrageous way they could. Whether from the vantage of my loftiest ethical concerns over civilians being murdered in my name to my crassest partisan calculations in the run-up to the 2014 mid-term elections, Obama's statement has made things better and not worse today than yesterday, and that is much more than I expected when I went to bed last night. Obviously everything is still likely to be worse than bad when it comes to it, but these days worse than bad is better than expected.

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