Analysis: Obama's credibility on line in reversal
The stunning reversal also raises questions about the president's decisiveness and could embolden leaders in Syria, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere, leaving them with the impression of a U.S. president unwilling to back up his words with actions.
The president, in a hastily announced statement Saturday in the White House Rose Garden, argued that he did in fact have the power to act on his own. But faced with the prospect of taking action opposed by many Americans, the commander in chief tried to shift the burden and instead round up partners on Capitol Hill to share in that responsibility.
"While I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective," Obama said. "We should have this debate."
The consequences for Obama's turnabout could be sweeping, both at home and abroad. If Congress votes against military action, it would mark a humiliating defeat for a second-term president already fighting to stay relevant and wield influence in Washington. It could also weaken his standing internationally at a time when there are already growing questions about the scope of American influence, particularly in the Arab world.
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