The invisible branch of government

In a shocking turn of events, Congress is probably going to fail to do its job for only the infinity-eth time since 2011 (or thereabouts, I’m not being picky):

Mr. Obama’s meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders on Tuesday in the Oval Office will be the first of several between White House officials and lawmakers as the administration tries to persuade Congress to embrace the president’s plan to halt the momentum of the Sunni militant group known as ISIS.

A year after opposition in Congress thwarted plans for missile strikes in Syria, the White House is again putting the issue of military force in the Middle East before a skeptical Congress and a war-weary public.

Mr. Obama has not indicated yet whether he will seek congressional authorization, though he said Saturday he would like “buy-in” for a broader campaign, which the White House so far has not defined.

Democratic leaders in the Senate and Republican leaders in the House want to avoid a public vote to authorize force, fearing the unknown political consequences eight weeks before the midterm elections on Nov. 4.

Well heck, by that logic, why take any controversial votes on anything at all? Oh, right, this Congress doesn’t. And this president doesn’t like to put them in the awkward position of having to take a position on anything.

It’s easy to see why Congress doesn’t want to go on the record when it comes to a new military campaign in the Middle East; Democrats are afraid somebody might get Mad at them, which they work studiously to avoid at all costs, and Republicans are happy for the chance to argue every side of the issue:

“A lot of people would like to stay on the sideline and say, ‘Just bomb the place and tell us about it later,’ ” said Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, who supports having an authorization vote. “It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.

Kingston is leaving Congress this year, so he can pull the curtain back like that without fearing repercussions.

Still, in case nobody in DC has noticed yet, it’s really kind of crippling to our system of government when one branch (the Article One branch, no less) just up and quits for a few years. You folks might want to do something about that.

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