Obama bets house on Syria — and is losing

Obama bets house on Syria — and is losing

Facing the prospect of waging war against Syria unilaterally, President Obama belatedly gambled that Congress could give him some political cover for a risky decision. He’s not likely to get it, based on the initial reaction from House members from both parties.

Despite the show of support from House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday afternoon, that’s not going to move many votes. Neither is putting any pressure on their members to vote for a military strike against Syria despite their personal support. Both are calling it a vote of conscience and aren’t urging members to join them.

That means members will be freer to take the politically safe route of opposing a war that a fresh round of polling shows a majority of Americans oppose. In a survey released Tuesday, Pew found a near-majority (48 percent) opposed conducting military airstrikes against Syria, with just 29 percent supporting. More ominous for the president, Democrats were more opposed than Republicans to any mission in Syria—by a robust 19-point margin.

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