Last night, President Donald Trump ordered a round of cruise missile strikes against a Syrian government airbase believed to have been the origin of an horrific chemical weapons attack on civilians and rebel-held positions in that country. The response from Colorado Republicans and Democrats to this strike was generally supportive on both sides–but as Denver7’s Blair Miller reports, Republican reactions to the strike are markedly different than a very similar situation in 2013, when President Barack Obama unsuccessfully sought permission to attack Syria after another incident where chemical weapons were used against civilians:
The reaction from many lawmakers to Thursday night’s U.S. attack on a Syrian air base that followed a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens earlier this week stands in stark contrast to their reactions when President Obama called for similar military actions in 2013.
Thousands of Syrians were hit with chemical weapons in a strike purportedly ordered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Aug. 21, 2013.
As the Obama administration wringed its hands over how to respond to the attack, which was a violation of the Geneva Convention that bans the use of chemical weapons, most members of Congress also fretted over how the U.S. government might respond…
On Aug. 28 of that year, then-Rep. Cory Gardner, Rep. Scott Tipton, and Rep. Mike Coffman signed on to a House letter to Obama that urged the president to “consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria.”
“Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution,” the letter said. [Pols emphasis]
As the situation developed in August of 2013, Colorado Republicans hardened in opposition to any use of force against Syria in response to the chemical weapons attack on Ghouta, Syria on August 21st of that year:
Coffman tweeted on Aug. 29 of that year, “Pres. Obama must obey Constitution and come to Congress before any military action in Syria,” a day after saying, “Your Colorado delegation agrees, no to war in Syria and yes to transparency from the President.”
…Gardner tweeted on Sept. 4 and 5 of that year that he was “skeptical” of the U.S. getting involved in Syria. On the 4th, he said, “I am not yet convinced of a compelling & vital national interest.” [Pols emphasis]
As for Rep. Doug Lamborn? You can just imagine:
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., issued a statement Sept. 12 of that year saying, “Nothing I heard from President Obama tonight convinced me that a military strike against Syria is in America’s best interest,” adding that he had “lost confidence in the president’s ability to lead” and that neither classified nor unclassified briefings convinced him he should vote for or against any possible resolution to authorize military actions in Syria – a resolution that never came.
But as FOX 31 rounded up last night, that was then. This is what Cory Gardner says now:
Tonight, the United States of America took action against a treacherous regime whose actions and allies have shown the world the dark edge of humanity. The use of chemical weapons is illegal under international law and the Administration is well justified taking this long-overdue action tonight against a designated state sponsor of terrorism.
And Rep. Mike Coffman, for whom the War Powers Resolution was so critically important under Obama:
Tonight’s actions in Syria come after Assad’s horrific actions against his own people. America must show leadership and I’m thankful for what appears to be an effective response by our military.
And Rep. Doug Lamborn, who told Obama that striking Syria is not in America’s best interest–does he even remember what he said before?
Syrian President Assad continues to act far beyond the norms of civilized leaders. Unlike the previous administration which walked away from similar outrages, [Pols emphasis] President Trump is willing to send a clear signal of U.S. opposition to crimes against humanity.
In Blair’s story, Gardner makes a feeble attempt to justify this clear contradiction, claiming that the situation is worse now, even though many more civilians died in the 2013 chemical weapons attacks. As for Lamborn and Coffman, they don’t even try to make sense of what they said then versus now.
That’s because they can’t. The hypocrisy on display here is simply too much to explain away. The only real difference between the chemical attack by Syria in 2013 and the latest attack is the fact that a Republican is now President. And that means to these politicians, the lives lost and the moral need to respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction against civilians are all just part of the game.
However you feel about this military action, if that is not outrageous, nothing is.