It’s not often that President Obama finds himself battling his own party, but the conflict against ISIS has forced the president into a corner where he has no good options. Republicans want to see him take off the gloves and stop limiting himself and future presidents when it comes to dismantling the deadly organization. Democrats, on the other hand, want to avoid Iraq War III at all costs. Some ranking Democrats in both houses of Congress have been adamant against granting the president any more authority than he already has.
According to Politico, the president could be headed for “the largest Democratic rebellion in years, which could send an embarrassing message to U.S. allies just as the United States tries to show unity against a serious national security threat.”
The most serious concern, of course, is the use of U.S. ground troops. Obama has gone on record dozens of times to say that he would not put boots on the ground in Iraq. But as it becomes obvious that airstrikes are not enough to combat this threat, Democrats are concerned that the president will try to go back on his earlier promise. For congressmen who believe they were elected on a wave of Iraq War resentment, the thought of authorizing another one may be too much to overcome.
So where does that leave Obama? Well, the answer is obvious. He must use this opportunity to do something he has done precious little of in the last six years: lead. The executive branch has a lot of duties, but none trump the president’s role in protecting national security. If Obama believes, as Republicans do and as many Americans do, that ISIS poses a clear threat to that security, then he needs to begin laying out that message.
The problem is that we don’t hear that kind of message from the White House. Instead, we hear criticism of America’s past, defense of Islam, and an unclear position on the U.S. role in the Middle East. This president says one thing and then does another. He comes across like someone who is either wrestling with a decision or has his head completely out of the game. If it’s the former, that’s fine, but he needs to figure it out pretty soon. If it’s the latter, he needs to be straight with the American people and admit that he no longer has the heart for the gig. Hard to look forward to a President Biden, but really, could it be any worse?