After yesterday’s 10-7 committee vote set the stage for a tight vote in the Senate about the Syrian War, the issue may end up entirely academic, as ABC News is the first to call it, and based on the public comments the war is headed for a defeat in the House of Representatives.
Heavy lobbying for war support by the administration and the backing of all of the House leadership in both parties hasn’t amounted to much, as broad public opposition has left only a handful willing to go on the record as “yes” votes, with 150+ undecideds and a simply majority now saying they will oppose it.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D – CA), on the pro-war side, has conceded that she doesn’t know if she can bring in a majority of Democrats on her side. That’s probably putting it mildly, with huge “no” and huge “undecided” contingents making even a close split probably unlikely. The momentum in the House is clearly against this war: with the public opposed and an election next year, it’s hard to envision any major shift.
Indeed, that Reps. Pelosi (D – CA), Boehner (R – OH), Cantor (R – VA) and the rest of the leadership have been so unsuccessful in getting the rank-and-file on board is a huge rebuke, and a decisive defeat for President Obama’s push for war.
Rep. Michael Grimm (R – NY) came out in favor of the war last weekend, but is hastily retreating from that position with defeat looming, and now says that he is “no longer convinced” of the merits of attacking Syria.
That’s likely to loom large among the undecideds, and with defeat seemingly assured, it is hard to imagine that many of them are going to want to go on the record as pro-war a year before the election, especially in a vote they’re going to lose.
An historic defeat for the administration’s war plan, it sets the stage for Secretary of State John Kerry’s repeated claims that President Obama could attack after losing the vote to be put to the test. Officials have so far refused to discuss that prospect too deeply, insisting they are “confident” in winning the vote, but now that it seems clear they’ll lose, that confidence seems as ill-placed as their confidence in the rest of the case for war.