Ultraliberal Congressman Alan Grayson was interviewed on Thursday’s PBS NewsHour, and struck a fierce pose against missile strikes in Syria in a peace-sign tie. Anchor Jeffrey Brown repeatedly questioned how cavalier Grayson seemed in protecting a president of his own party.
From Obama’s corner, Brown began by asking what kind of message inaction would send to Syria. Grayson said “if you want to send a message, use Hallmark, not missiles.” It’s a lame joke, since Hallmark isn’t making cards for special occasions like chemical weapons attacks on civilians. Brown kept sputtering about how he could let Obama down:
JEFFREY BROWN: What about the prestige, the credibility of the United States and of the president himself? Do you worry about that?
ALAN GRAYSON: We don't -- no, we don't earn credibility by doing things that are stupid and counterproductive. We have to get over that whole idea. And if it were a question of our credibility, then, in fact, I think our credibility is stronger by making wise choices here. And I'll tell you this. We cannot go to war for the sake of anybody's, how shall I say this, credibility.
BROWN: But this is your -- many people in your own -- of course, this is a president in your own party. He's talked about -- he said: "My credibility is not on the line. The international community's credibility is on the line." Is he wrong about that?
GRAYSON: Yes. The international community has spoken. We are the only ones who are contemplating anything like this. If we don't do this attack, no one else will. The British, on exactly the same evidence, decided against doing exactly this specific thing. The international community has decided that, when it works, it works multilaterally, and not simply by lobbing missiles and bombs into a war zone, with effects we cannot even possibly anticipate.
BROWN: What about the international community long ago coming out against the use of chemical weapons, saying that they are somehow different?
GRAYSON: Honestly, I don't even know what that means. I mean, it sounds like many of the cliches that I hear coming out of the mouths of administration spokesmen. The fact is this. People understand, it's not our problem, it's not going to do any good, it's expensive, and it's dangerous. If you want to get us into a third war in the Middle East, this is the way to do it.
BROWN: So what do you think going on with the president then? What are his motives? Is it principle? Is it politics? What's going on?
GRAYSON: Oh, I don't question the president's motives at all. I think the president is a person of good spirit who is making a very serious mistake in this regard. And since we live a democracy, we can do something about it before anything bad happens. I'm delighted that the president came to Congress and he's willing to see that, when push comes to shove, 20 members of Congress think it's a good idea and 183 think that it's a terrible idea.
That's what democracy is all about. And that's the message we're sending to the world, that we are a vibrant democracy and we can think things through without taking abrupt action that ends up being counterproductive.
Brown worried out loud about Obama’s “stature” and ability to “get things done” if he’s rejected in Congress:
BROWN: And what happens to the president from your own party if he loses this vote? What are the implications for him, for his stature, for his ability to get things done in the rest of his term?
GRAYSON: With all due respect, that's irrelevant. We cannot decide whether to go to war on the basis of those kind of considerations. It simply doesn't matter.
Like many leftists, Grayson would rather focus on growing the government at home rather than projecting military force abroad. Brown asked if Obama was “right in coming to Congress, though?” Grayson said yes.
When asked what Obama would do if Congress failed to authorize force, Grayson was the opposite of Secretary of State Kerry on Sunday’s interview shows. Kerry thought the prospect of losing was unthinkable. Grayson thought the prospect of Obama going to war after losing the vote was unthinkable: "It's not even worth talking about. President Obama has established a certain tone during the first five years of his presidency. I trust that he will take the advice of Congress, and that will be the end of it. That's what I expect to happen."