Cal  Thomas

Appearing in the White House Rose Garden last Saturday, President Obama apparently experienced a revelation. He acknowledged there are constitutional limits on his power, something he has heretofore mostly ignored while issuing executive orders, bypassing Congress on appointments and deciding which parts of the Affordable Care Act to follow and which to delay or ignore.

The president will wait for Congress to reconvene on Sept. 9 and debate whether to grant him authority to attack Syria. It is uncertain whether he will get approval for what he says will be a limited -- and likely inconsequential -- strike.

His indecisiveness sends a clear message to the Middle East where dictators and mullahs respect power and consistency. They can be expected to have little fear of this president who thinks his order to Navy Seals to kill Osama bin Laden should be sufficient proof of his strength and resolve.

The trouble with an uncertain trumpet blown by a naive and weak leader is that it can get people killed. American people.

Why should any dictator or terrorist fear America? The president promised to bring to justice those who attacked the U.S. mission in Benghazi nearly a year ago, killing four Americans. He hasn't. With Syria, he has sent a message that will almost certainly invite more attacks on Americans.

You know things are bad when Russian President Vladimir Putin sounds more decisive and more credible than the American president. The day after Secretary of State John Kerry (who looked and sounded more presidential than the president) delivered a ringing justification for attacking Syria, the president undercut him by passing the buck to Congress.

Obama should have immediately recalled Congress, as British Prime Minister David Cameron reconvened Parliament. After a serious debate, a majority of MPs rejected any British military role in attacking Syria. Opposition came from all sides. Maybe that's what the president fears and why he wants time to lobby Members of Congress before a vote.

What will the president do if Congress refuses to go along, as it well may? If Congress won't authorize military force against Syria, the president will suffer a double blow from which he may not recover. Will he attack anyway and risk backlash from a public exhausted by war, or will he suspend attack plans and look emasculated as Damascus and others are already claiming he is? Either way, he and America lose.

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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