The United States will appear "weak and impotent" if Congress does not back President Barack Obama's call for a limited strike against Syria, political analyst Doug Schoen tells Newsmax.
He also asserts that Obama would achieve a "political win" by blaming Congress for the failure to act, at the expense of "American prestige and credibility."
Schoen is a Democratic pollster and Fox News contributor. His most recent book is "Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What it Means for 2012 and Beyond."
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In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Tuesday, he was asked what the lack of support for a strike on Syria means to Obama.
"It means that the president is going to see his approval ratings fall," he says. "It's going to mean that congressional approval is going to be unlikely."
Schoen said New York Rep. Charlie Rangel had got it right when he complained about the president's actions on Syria.
"As Congressman Rangel
so aptly put it, the United States, the president, has been embarrassed as a result of this process.
"The bottom line: We've lost power, the Iranians have gained power, the Russians have gained power. The president said there was a red line. The red line's been crossed, and we haven't taken action."
Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have had a "candid exchange" with President Obama on Syria, and McCain warned Monday that the consequences would be catastrophic if Congress votes against a military strike against President Bashar Assad
Schoen agrees: "I don't believe the United States can commit itself through the president of the United States to a course of action and then stand down. If the Congress goes against the president, we will look weak and impotent regardless of whether you're for a strike or against a strike.
"The president is the head of state, the leader, and if he makes a determination and we don't follow through on that determination, we are weakened and we are ultimately seen as impotent."
Secretary of State John Kerry has said Obama has the right to strike Syria even if Congress doesn’t authorize it.
Schoen says Obama would not necessarily "flout" the Constitution if he does go forward without congressional approval.
"That being said, we've gotten ourselves into a position where the president has outlined different positions at different times, he adds.
"He had made it clear that if the red line was crossed we would strike. All last week it seemed we would strike. John Kerry made a forceful case for striking, and then two days later Kerry and [Defense Secretary Chuck] Hagel had to go on TV and defend the decision to go to the Congress.
"If Congress turns down a strike and the president acts in some way, that could provoke some sort of real crisis of governance. More likely, if the Congress turns down a strike, the president will blame Congress, have a short-term political win, if you can call it that, at the expense of American prestige and credibility."
If Congress does reject the war authorization, "the president will be weakened," Schoen tells Newsmax. "We have other issues on the table – the debt ceiling, Obamacare, the budget – and if the president doesn't get a resounding vote of support, which at least at this point is unlikely, it's bound to further weaken an already weakened presidency."
The GOP seems divided on whether to intervene in Syria, Schoen agrees.
"There has always been a strand in the Republican Party of isolationists and I've always been an internationalist. There's been a bipartisan tradition of internationalism.
"But with the rise of the tea party movement, there has been a renewed sense that America's business belongs at home, that we should take care of the country first, and that spending money on international insurgencies, particularly like Iraq and Afghanistan, which did not turn out as well as we had hoped, promote a sense that America best leave international expeditions to others."
A number of lawmakers say the president hasn't articulated a clear purpose or strategy for military strikes or that there's no clear or attainable military goal.
Schoen comments: "There clearly isn't a rationale, there's not a logic, and some commentator said if we get congressional approval for a cruise missile strike that the Syrians are prepared for, that doesn't really undermine the regime in any way and allows them to say they have survived the American effort.
"So I agree that the president has to lay out something more than a desire to send limited cruise missiles as a response. And no, he hasn't provided a strategy.
As for reports that Obama will push for gay rights when he visits Russia, Schoen observes: "The international gay rights movement provides something of a lever against the Russians who have been succeeding vis-à-vis global public opinion on Syria.
"I am really skeptical about our intrusion into internal Russian affairs, seeking to lobby them on their own legislation about the Sochi Olympic Games. It's not clear we're going to have effect inside Russia."
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