It’s only been four years since the first purported chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria. The waters are just as murky this time around and it’s difficult to determine who actually perpetrated the war crime. Nonetheless, President Trump took swift unconstitutional action and unilaterally bombed a Syrian government airbase without seeking Congressional approval. Interestingly, many Republicans who opposed President Obama’s plan to do the same in 2013 are now suddenly in favor of such action. Conversely, Democrats who supported President Obama then are now just as suddenly finding themselves protesting President Trump’s actions. There are dozens of Republican and Democrat lawmakers who have completely flip-flopped on bombing Syria since 2013.
The list is exhaustive given that the majority of Republicans and Democrats are basic partisan hacks who unquestionably follow their party leadership. Thankfully, The New York Times has taken the time to pick out the top twelve most influential Republicans and Democrats who have flip-flopped on bombing Syria. They didn’t use that language and were of course much more gracious to the Democrats who switched their positions. Republicans were labeled as going from “opposed” to “supportive” whereas Democrats were described as changing from “supportive” to “needs oversight”.
Many of the names of this list of Republicans and Democrats who flip-flopped on bombing Syria won’t come as a surprise. Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, and Mac Thornberry make up the Republican leadership which leads the partisan opposition. They all opposed President Obama’s bombing proposal but are now finding themselves fully behind President Trump. It’s the same story across the aisle as well. Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Tim Kaine, Jack Reed, Benjamin Cardin, and Eliot Engel were all more than happy to toe the party line in 2013. Outliers include Republican Senator Bob Corker who was supportive of President Obama’s efforts but is now questioning President Trump.
Naturally, those Democrats are now outraged that President Trump didn’t consult Congress about his war plans. Although, it’s hard to believe that they’re actually opposed the idea based on principle given how supportive they were when the President had a D next to his name. They’ll probably end up flip-flopping on bombing Syria again if a Democrat is elected in 2020. The only men that can be genuinely believed on this issue are the ones who have remained consistent under both Democrat and Republican administrations.
Sadly, there were only a couple examples of this. Senator Rand Paul and Congressman Justin Amash were highlighted for their definitive opposition statements. They are both against the idea that the President can unilaterally declare war without getting Congressional authorization. That includes opposition to the abuse of the War Powers Act which is in and of itself unconstitutional. It doesn’t matter to them which party the President is from. Neither Rand Paul nor Justin Amash supports bombing Syria and they won’t be flip-flopping no matter the incoming party pressure.
Interestingly, there was one prominent Republican that was overlooked when this list was compiled: Donald Trump himself. The man was adamantly opposed to bombing Syria in 2013 and criticized both the idea and President Obama repeatedly on Twitter. That shouldn’t be forgotten given that President Trump was the one who caused these partisan hacks to flip-flop on bombing Syria in the first place.