Nancy Pelosi’s Grandchild Explains Why President Obama Can’t Order an Attack on Syria

Today I actually got involved in an e-mail debate with none other than Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall (who never before has answered my e-mails). He contended that President Obama has complete authority as commander-in-chief to order an attack on Syria without congressional authorization, and he lectured me for allegedly being ignorant on the subject of constitutional war powers.

“It’s a complex topic,” said Marshall. “I simply don’t think this is as simple as only Congress has the right to get us into shooting wars.” He’s wrong of course, and I gave him some detailed arguments which I could repeat here, and maybe will in comments. But tonight on Lawrence O’Donnell’s MSNBC show I learned about another debate that quickly got to the point. I could not do better.

[Note: Please ignore the AIPAC ad]

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) emerged from a meeting with President Obama and other congressional leaders earlier today and publicly declared her continued support for military intervention in Syria. But before she left the press gaggle, she shared one last story about a curious conversation she had with her five-year-old grandson over Labor Day weekend.

Before she left her home in San Francisco, Pelosi said her grandson approached her with this question: “Are you ‘yes’ war with Syria, ‘no’ war with Syria?” First of all, she wanted everyone to know that “we’re not talking about war, we’re talking about an action” in Syria, but none-the-less she continued the anecdote.

When she asked her grandson what he thought, he said, “I think no war.” She proceeded to make her case to the young man, describing how Bashar al-Assad’s regime has “killed hundreds of children there.”

“Were these children in the United States?” her grandson asked, bringing up the salient point of how the strike will affect American interests.

She told him, no, but they are “children” wherever they are. “It affects our interests because, again, it was outside of the circle of civilized behavior,” she told reporters. “Humanity drew a line decades ago that I think if we ignore, we do so to the peril of many other people who could suffer.”

From her remarks, it sounds like Pelosi may not have been able to sway her five-year-old grandson. Will she be able to convince her colleagues in the House?

Attacking Syria would be a big mistake, the biggest of the Obama administration. Everyone can see it. The only division is between those who can admit this in public, and those who cannot.

UPDATE: The New York Times reported:

Administration officials said the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee was already at work pressing for military action against the government of Assad, fearing that if Syria escapes American retribution for its use of chemical weapons, Iran might be emboldened in the future to attack Israel. In the House, the majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, has long worked to challenge Democrats’ traditional base among Jews.

One administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified discussing White House strategy, called AIPAC “the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” and said its allies in Congress had to be saying, “If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line” against the catastrophic use of chemical weapons, “we’re in trouble.”

But later, the NYT editors cut all mention of AIPAC from the story without explanation.

UPDATE: General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in July (emphasis added):

I know that the decision to use force is not one that any of us takes lightly. It is no less than an act of war. As we weigh our options, we should be able to conclude with some confidence that the use of force will move us toward the intended outcome. We must also understand risk—not just to our forces, but to our other global responsibilities… Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next.

Pay close attention to what General Dempsey said today, following an interesting exchange between Secretary of State John Kerry and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY):

Seriously, when is war not “war”?

UPDATE US Officials: Attack On Syria May Lead To War With Iran

  1. #1 by brewski on September 4, 2013 - 8:19 am

    Lots of interesting issues here:
    1. Richard sides with Rand Paul
    2. Richard uses Fox News as a credible source
    3. Obama, Pelosi are making the exact same arguments W made and they know it
    4. According to the Pelosi’s grandson principle and the Richard principle, they would still be speaking German in Paris today and Russian in Berlin today.

    • #2 by Richard Warnick on September 4, 2013 - 9:03 am

      1. Remember, I’m a recovering Libertarian 😉
      2. It’s just a video clip
      3. At least Bush never tried to claim he wasn’t taking our country into a war
      4. That makes no sense unless you think we have allies in Syria (we don’t)

      • #3 by brewski on September 4, 2013 - 9:40 am

        Allies? What Allies?
        The US was officially neutral as late as 1941.
        This whole Allies argument is ex post.

        • #4 by Richard Warnick on September 4, 2013 - 10:20 am

          Or you could say we don’t have a dog in that fight in Syria. John McCain’s terrorist buddies don’t count.

          World War II was before we were born. I don’t think the situation in 1941 bears much resemblance to the world today.

          • #5 by brewski on September 4, 2013 - 12:17 pm

            I am applying your logic and your standards to other situations. I couldn’t care less if it was before I was born. That is called a dodge and a capitulation.

  2. #6 by Richard Warnick on September 4, 2013 - 9:26 am

    Senator McCain won’t support the Syria AUMF because it’s too limited – not enough death and destruction. Other Republicans won’t support it because President Obama wants to attack a country that’s done nothing to us. The rest of the Republicans are simply against ANYTHING Obama proposes.

  3. #7 by Richard Warnick on September 4, 2013 - 9:38 am

    AIPAC wants war with Syria because it opens the door to war with Iran.

  4. #8 by Richard Warnick on September 4, 2013 - 10:34 am

    Utah Senator Mike Lee is a NO vote on Syria war. Senator Orrin Hatch is listed as “undecided.”

  5. #9 by Richard Warnick on September 4, 2013 - 1:20 pm

    brewski– Are you really equating the Syrian civil war to Hitler’s conquest of Europe? Only a neocon would even want to do that. The historical situation was a national security threat to the USA and our allies (i.e. the same countries we allied with in World War I). The current Syria situation has very little bearing on our national security, except as yet another reason for people to hate us for messing around in the Middle East.

    • #10 by brewski on September 4, 2013 - 2:02 pm

      I am really equating your logic to your logic. Why do you keep running from your own logic?

      • #11 by Richard Warnick on September 4, 2013 - 3:23 pm

        No you’re pulling your usual red herring fallacy because you have nothing worthwhile to say about Syria.

        • #12 by brewski on September 4, 2013 - 3:25 pm

          I have something to say about your logic and your lack of ability to apply your own logic and your willingness to run from your own logic.

          • #13 by Richard Warnick on September 4, 2013 - 3:32 pm

            brewski– If you were the commander-in-chief, what would be your plan for Syria? Invading the Normandy beaches does not count.

          • #14 by brewski on September 4, 2013 - 3:52 pm

            If I followed the Richard Warnick Rule, the Normandy Beaches would be now called Normandie Strände.

  6. #15 by Disgusted jew on September 4, 2013 - 2:24 pm

    Don’t expect richtard to asses his own illogic…

  7. #16 by Richard Warnick on September 4, 2013 - 5:16 pm


    Still waiting for that Syria plan. Hope it’s a good one!

  8. #17 by brewski on September 4, 2013 - 8:42 pm

    I have no idea what you are talking about.

    • #18 by Richard Warnick on September 5, 2013 - 9:29 am

      I asked you what you would do about Syria if you were commander-in-chief. Simple question.

      • #19 by brewski on September 5, 2013 - 10:54 am

        I have asked you millions of simple questions you have never answered. I’m still waiting.

        • #20 by Richard Warnick on September 5, 2013 - 11:13 am

          When your questions are reasonable, I answer them.

          I think it’s quite reasonable to ask what you think the USA ought to do in Syria. You seem to consider yourself an expert on what military actions to take many years after the fact — I’d like you to suggest a course of action ahead of time for once.

          • #21 by brewski on September 5, 2013 - 11:30 am

            I have asked you the most simple reasonable questions and all you do is dodge and spin.

  9. #22 by brewski on September 4, 2013 - 10:06 pm

    In favor of war:


    Whose side are you on?

    • #23 by Richard Warnick on September 5, 2013 - 9:26 am

      I’m with Ron Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio… and Chris Murphy, Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, and Tom Udall. And Nancy Pelosi’s grandson!

      I’m against breaching the U.N. Charter, violating our Constitution, waging “dumb wars” (Obama used to be with me on that), and letting my country be an international bad guy and a threat to world peace.

      • #24 by brewski on September 5, 2013 - 10:55 am

        You sound like a tea partier.

        Glenden is going to delete your posts.

  10. #25 by cav on September 5, 2013 - 7:00 am

    The same people drawing red-lines because chemical weapons = nukes or something, used chemical weapons on peaceful Occupy protesters. 

  11. #26 by cav on September 5, 2013 - 7:26 am

    Richard, Re: your NYT update…Israel might be emboldened to attack, well, someone, anyone to perpetuate the instability and eventually Iran (the real designated enemy for old political reasons).

  12. #27 by Richard Warnick on September 5, 2013 - 10:05 am

    Why Republicans might vote for a war on Syria: The Road to War in Iran Runs Through Syria

  13. #28 by Richard Warnick on September 5, 2013 - 11:08 am

    Dennis J. Kucinich: Top 10 Unproven Claims for War Against Syria

    IMHO the reason they won’t tell us where the Syria intel is coming from is a lot of it is unverified Israeli reports.

  14. #29 by Disgusted jew on September 5, 2013 - 11:39 am

    Of course they are from jew lies you idiots!! We are the nazis now, and the WHOLE WORLD is marshaling AGAINST US!

    I don’t think any of the stoopids on this site are going to get it until the bombs fall through their own roofs..

    • #30 by cav on September 5, 2013 - 10:20 pm

      Disgusting’, I know you’re just dripping with insight, in fact, you’re probably the One True Genius haunting this site (well, there’s always brewski…) And, never let it be said we don’t appreciate those insightful comments.

      So, while we’re waiting for the bombs to fall – simply because the whole world hates our freedumb – I think you’d do better by us and yourself, short-circuiting the name-calling and spend a little time getting real about how much impact any of our commentary might have on that radioactive cloud / wave you’ll likely be the first to be exposed to.

      Outside of that, I’ll let you in on a little secret…on second thought, No, I won’t. ESAD

      • #31 by Digusted jew on September 6, 2013 - 1:12 am

        cav, aren’t you one of the retards who voted for o’bomber twice?

        • #32 by cav on September 6, 2013 - 3:11 am


  15. #33 by Richard Warnick on September 5, 2013 - 12:18 pm


    I’ll make it easier for you. Here’s your multiple-choice commander-in-chief test.

    1. None of our allies and none of the other signatories of the Chemical Weapons Convention back military action against Syria. A majority of Americans are strongly opposed to starting a war with Syria. Congress will authorize only the most limited actions, if any. Do you:

    a. Order an attack against Syria by virtue of the imagined power of the “unitary executive” theory?

    b. Use diplomacy and outright bribes to cobble together a “coalition of the willing” including countries that have no military forces such as the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and the Solomon Islands (Bush did it)?

    c. Obey the U.N. Charter and bring any evidence of Syrian war crimes to the International Court of Justice instead of starting an illegal war?

    2. Each Tomahawk cruise missile costs $1.41 million. As commander-in-chief, would you:

    a. Order the Navy to fire 200 to 400 missiles at Syrian targets, at a cost of $282 to $564 million?

    b. Order the State Department to spend $50 million to help Syrian refugees and allow some to re-settle in the USA?

    3. We don’t know the exact locations of all the Syrian rocket and artillery batteries, and these units are mobile. Some may be decoys. Many are located in civilian areas. Do you:

    a. Aim the Tomahawks at the known (or suspected) battery locations in an attempt to “degrade” chemical weapons capability, knowing that few missiles will hit the intended targets, and innocent Syrian noncombatants will be killed and wounded?

    b. Try to hit command and control targets, which may also be mobile and located in civilian areas?

    c. Make a symbolic gesture by hitting empty Syrian airfields, which are not moving targets and have few civilians living near them?

    d. Realize that this plan just isn’t going to work?

    4. Congress won’t authorize the insertion of combat troops into Syria. If the Assad regime collapses, do you:

    a. Ignore Congress and send special operations forces to search for and secure stockpiles of chemical weapons, taking American casualties in the process?

    b. Let rebels linked to al-Qaeda have the weapons?

    • #34 by brewski on September 5, 2013 - 2:42 pm

      Isn’t it frustrating when you ask easy questions and don’t get an answer?

      Welcome to my world talking to you.

      • #35 by Richard Warnick on September 5, 2013 - 2:47 pm

        No, it just proves you have nothing intelligent to say about Syria. You just want another war, but you don’t know why or how.

        • #36 by brewski on September 5, 2013 - 8:00 pm

          Show me where I said that.

          Can you read?

          • #37 by Richard Warnick on September 5, 2013 - 9:30 pm

            Do you want the USA to go to war in Syria? Another simple question.

          • #38 by brewski on September 5, 2013 - 10:12 pm

            I have asked you millions of simple questions you have never answered. I’m still waiting.

  16. #39 by Richard Warnick on September 5, 2013 - 12:56 pm

    Rumsfeld dismisses Obama as the ‘so-called commander-in-chief’

    I wonder what channel Rumsfeld was on when he said that.

  17. #40 by Richard Warnick on September 5, 2013 - 4:42 pm

    From the Think Progress Syria bombing whip count:

    Rep. Jason Chaffetz – Lean No
    Rep. Jim Matheson – No
    Rep. Chris Stewart – Undecided

    More: Utah congressional delegation not sold on Syria strikes

  18. #41 by Richard Warnick on September 5, 2013 - 4:51 pm

    Interviews on the scene of the alleged nerve agent attack indicate it was the result of rebels accidentally setting off munitions due to improper handling. Rebels say the munitions were supplied by Saudi Arabia.

    “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

    It will be interesting to see if this story even gets mentioned on American cable news.

    • #42 by brewski on September 6, 2013 - 6:48 am

      Or by Obama or Kerry

      • #43 by Richard Warnick on September 6, 2013 - 10:02 am

        The unclassified U.S. intel notes there were Syrian Army rocket attacks on Damascus suburbs on August 21. Although the independent reporting describes Saudi-supplied chemical munitions being stored in tunnels, it’s possible that an incoming rocket set off a rebel stockpile of nerve agent.

        Of course, this possibility is not mentioned in the unclassified report. What Secretary of State Kerry clumsily refers to as the “scrubbed” intel.

        I wonder if we’ll ever know what really happened.

  19. #44 by Disgusted jew on September 5, 2013 - 10:15 pm

    We are witnessing the esoteric truth of how progressiveism when it finally destroys a nation’s institutions, then ushers in MASS MURDER!

    The last century’s horrible murderfests were all ushered in by mindless hypocritical progressives, who once the process is initiated by psychopaths, wind up shot in the back of the head, twisting at the end of a rope, or piled up into a mass grave.

    Look at what the murderous jihadis actually DO!

    Stop the insanity..NOW!

    • #45 by Richard Warnick on September 6, 2013 - 9:57 am

      I agree. Insane comments as well. 🙁

  20. #47 by Richard Warnick on September 6, 2013 - 1:40 pm

    Latest House whip count: 223 votes against war with Syria. Just 39 of the 413 members of the House said they will definitely or likely vote in favor or the resolution.

  21. #48 by Disgusted jew on September 6, 2013 - 2:53 pm

    What’s insane is what this psychopathic progressive president wants to do…..what’s even as disgusting is what liberals and good democrats are willing to say in order to excuse it.

    Like Putin named kerry scum to his face…Pathetic.

    Do you somehow argue that Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot, and the rest of the horrors we saw last century were somehow NOT spawned by the progressive communitarian ideology?

    That would quite disingenuous Richard and historically inaccurate…hundreds of millions dead at their hands.

    What is wrong with you? Or what is wrong with the liberal progressive mind? Is it capable of complex thought?

    • #49 by Richard Warnick on September 6, 2013 - 3:12 pm

      In what way is President Obama a progressive? Progressives hate him. It goes without saying that the historical figures you mentioned weren’t progressives either. But keep blathering. 😉

  22. #50 by Disgusted jew on September 6, 2013 - 4:00 pm

    Ah you still don’t get it.. a progressive destroys the institutions tha have made a nation with their idiotic zeal, and then psychopaths take over and dispose of them as the useful used up idiots they are.

    This is the danger of “progressivism” and always has been, they are too weak in the head to actually deal with the realities of actually running a civilazation, and only manage to destroy with their dreams/nightmare ideology so then a freak can come along and dictate, then murder everyone he doesn’t like..

    How many times do you have to see it to get it?

    Do you actually read Richard, or do you simply write everything that comes into your head un reviewed?

    I rather enjoy watching brewski skewer you, it’s like 500 to nuthin’ by now..very entertaining in a Micheal Savage kind of way..

    • #51 by Richard Warnick on September 7, 2013 - 10:40 am

      Try again when you learn how to spell.

  23. #52 by Larry Bergan on September 8, 2013 - 7:15 pm

    Josh Marshall picked a fight with the wrong guy. Give him hell Richard!

    • #53 by Richard Warnick on September 8, 2013 - 7:26 pm

      I am starting to suspect that partisan Dems don’t like the idea of asking for a congressional AUMF because they’re afraid President Obama will be labeled a “lame duck” if he can’t get one, and doesn’t attack Syria.

      • #54 by brewski on September 8, 2013 - 11:27 pm

        Obama is a lame duck. No offense to lame ducks.

  24. #55 by Richard Warnick on September 9, 2013 - 1:44 pm

    Latest whip count on Syria war:

    Senator Orrin Hatch – Undecided
    Senator Mike Lee – No

    Rep. Bishop – No
    Rep. Chaffetz – No
    Rep. Matheson – No
    Rep. Stewart – Undecided

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