The scuttlebutt is that Obama wants to get the members of Congress on the record as voting yeah or nay:
His reasoning, according to officials who were in the room [when Obama explained his change of heart to his advisers in the Oval Office on Friday night]? He wants members on the record and on the hook, rather than simply criticizing from outside whatever action he takes.
This is congruent with what we already know of Obama. For him it’s all about political jockeying for position and his own status.
He has no idea how to make a difficult decision, but he’s helped by the fact that he has had no problem reversing himself in the past and has come to think that he will not suffer any serious consequences as a result.
He knows he can blame the Republicans, and he knows the Democrats will stick by him in the ways that count to him—on domestic issues like Obamacare and immigration, that is.
He didn’t really want to attack Syria anyway—if he does, he would be doing it mostly to save face about the red line he drew. So Syria itself is not the main issue.
His favorite modus operandi when something goes wrong for him is to pass the buck. So going to Congress at this point does just that, whether Congress ends up approving or disapproving.
I keep reading articles wondering if this will weaken Obama, but I’m not sure what they mean by “weaken.” He’s already weakened the US on the world stage, but since that’s his goal, that’s perfectly okay with him and is in fact a consummation devoutly to be wished. As for domestically, he’s not running for re-election. To be weakened, his own party would have to abandon him, and though they might gripe and grouse for a while it’s temporary and will not extend to other issues he deems important. And for him to be further weakened, voters would have to turn to Republicans in 2014 and 2016, and I just don’t see that happening as a result of Syria. Will voters even remember Syria at that point?