tv Face the Nation CBS September 8, 2013 5:00pm-5:31pm PDT
>> bob: welcome back to face the nation. the subject is still syria. the congress, and very much opposed to a strike. and cummings is still to be convinced at the least. i should say. gentlemen, thank you very much for bringing your perspectives to us this morning. congressman, you've been one of the more vocal opponents from the beginning of any action. is there anything that the administration or the president could say on tuesday night that would cause you to say, well, maybe i better go ahead and vote to give congress the authority to go ahead? >> entirely doubtful. i've been to the briefings. i spent a lot of time with my constituents. there's overwhelming disapproval for this war. i can't think of a reason now
based on the objectives that the administration has laid out, based on the strategy that they've laid out, i can't come up with a reason now why the united states should support this action. >> bob: you said at one point, anybody who votes for this might as well clean out their office, they were going to be defeated the next time around. but this, are there thing that is you would be willing to put your -- the fact that you're elected on the line and vote against what your constituents don't want? >> absolutely. but in this case, we're talking about war. i've spent a lot of time in my district -- when we found out the president was going to go to congress as he should do -- we decided to hold a series of town halls. 11 meet negligence two days. i met with constituents and whey saw was astonishing. not just disapproval of the war, but overwhelming disapproval from republicans
and democrats. and when you're dealing with war, you must take into consideration what the public thinks. you're talking about asking people to send loved ones into harm's way. >> bob: the >> pat: said they would object send troops in. >> congressman cupings cummings you seeing the same thing in your district? >> no doubt. my district voted 77% for the president. the president has work to do, but i think he can probably get the vote. but he has to come before the congress, and the nation, by the way. one of the things i said to the president was look, when you ask the congress to be involved, you're also asking about our constituents. he has to show that it's in national security interests, and why it is. he's got to show that if we are going -- if we don't
completely engrave assad's capability, how do we deter from using chemical weapons, and then show us that this will not end up in a scenario where we find ourselves in deeper involvement in a civil war in syria. these are difficult issues he's got. keep in mind, bob, i do believe the president is being held to a higher standard with regard to going into using force in another nation, and the reason being iraq. most of my constituents told me, look, we just spenlt trillions of dollars in iraq, young people died and were injured, and they just don't want to see that again, for what? >> bob: let me just ask you what i asked the other congressman. can you see any scenario under which you would support the strike? >> it's possible. i think we're going to have to have members of the house working on a much more limited
resolution that the one considered in the senate. ime going to take a look at that. i want to support the president. i believe in him. i believe that if the president came in and campaigned -- as our war, and says i think we need to do this-eye want to make sure i understand what he has seen, and keep in mind, bob, one of our problems is that we get information in these classified briefings -- we've been in the same briefings, where we can't even see the information. >> bob: let me ask you, you've heard dennis mcdonagh say, nobody rebuts the evidence. would you agree with that? >> nobody rebuts the information we've been presented at of briefings. but it's not as strong as the statements the approximate the and his mx*d agz have been making. i urged the administration in the most recent briefings, for example, to be more forward with the public about what the
situation actually is. i think that there are some thing that is are being embellished in the public statements. i would ask the administration to be more forward with the public about this. we all need to have the information. i would also add that the briefings haven't given me comfort. the briefings have made me more skeptical about the situation. >> bob: let me ask both of you this. this is the bottom line. what do you think the fallout would be? what would the impact be? the president has drawn a red line, and then the united states is not able to deliver. what does that do to the credibility of the united states? >> i think it hurts to some degree. at the same time, the question s if we go in and find ourselves mired in a civil war, what does that do? that's the problem, bob. >> we have a constitutional republic, and i we're at our strongest when the representatives of the
>> bob: joining us for afalsis, bob woodward who bringsul stunning new inform in a new book. bob, we'll get to that in a minute. and bill crystal from the weekly standard back to the broadcast. and our go to guys on fern policy, and the chief washington correspondent for the new york times, david zanger, and washington columnist, david ignatius, and rounding out the panel, daniel
from the american enterprise institute. bill, let me talk to you first. what's going to happen here? >> i don't know. >> i would reluctantly vote yes, and i think that's the right vote. i can't say a lot of republicans and conservatives, or members of the congress have been calling us and saying i agree wu. they're calling up and saying i'm voting no. >> bob: bob, would you agree with me, at this point, i don't think the president has the votes. >> it's clear he does not. what's interesting is, war is in a constitutional gray zone. the constitution makes it very clear it's a shared power between the president, who can employ the force, and the congress which would declare war or provide funding. so i think the president is right to go to congress. i think this is not something you should do alone.
barack obama is a constitutional lawyer, and was a professor of that, and it's very clear in the constitution, and maybe in the end, the argument to the republicans who oppose this, that it's a constitutional right, and you have to face the spectacle of the congress saying no, and the president, who i think is kind of got his feet in cement on this, he's going to strike in some form, and that spectacle could be a catastrophe in the world. >> bob: let me ask you, i take your point, bob, but there's those bailing out. he thought, i'll just dump this on the congress, and let them take responsibility for it. what do you think is going to happen? >> i think it is going to be close with bob and bill. i think it's going to be very tight. the biggest problem for president is the sense that you just laid out.
in libya he didn't want to go to the congress. he didn't hesitate even though it's a wide ranging operation. suddenly he wants to go to congress. having said he wants to do th, kloos a clear impression that the president doesn't want to own this. and members -- and i support the president relukt notlctantl this. if you don't want to own it, why do we want to own t. no strategy or clear operation. and he's asking them to make a hard vote. >> bob: what do you think? >> like all the panel, i couldn't predict what the vote will be, there's a lot of undecided, and i have to remind myself that the president, when they really want something and really turn the screws, they often get the votes. we'll have to see, what will prime minister netanyahu of israel say. this vote is important for the security of israel. and we call on america, where we have a daily effort by the
president starting tomorrow with interviews and then daily effort to go to congress and put the pressure on, those are the kinds of things that could change votes. >> bob: david, you have a piece on the front page of the new york times this morning, that says the irony here is the administration sort of looked the other way while assad was building up this store house of chemical weapons? >> not just this administration, but three administrations before it. both president bush, and president clinton, and there was a fairly robust effort by the syrians to get around a lot of sanctions. they did it successfully. they did it in part, because we've been focused more on nuclear proliferation around the world, and because many of the chemical that is are used to put together this stock pile, you can make a legitimate case are needed for other things, including pharmaceuticals. i think as the president moves
towards this vote, he has a fundamental choice to make this week. we heard, bob, from your guests, two different arguments, you heard the chief of staff make a humanitarian argument saying anybody who is going to vote for this has got to go look at these horrific films of the gas. and then you heard chairman rogers say this is only decided on the matter of national interests. i think part of the problem the president has run into is he's made part of the humanitarian argument without saying how you differentiate this from all the other great humanitarian matters and the killings over the years. and hasn't made an argument of american national interests. >> bob: where are american national interests, bill? >> the dictators backed by iran, get away with using weapons of mass destruction. i think the moral and the national case come together. it would be nice if someone from the administration made the case clearly and simply.
the trouble is they bring the president out on a bunch of interviews tomorrow and tuesday night, and try to recruit republicans to make the case. and the fact that this is a president who for four and a half years has -- getting us out of war, and not into wars. no need for force in iraq, and get out of afghanistan. and then evidence of assad using chemical weapons in syria, and he's fought hard to stay out of searia. he could over come that. if i were advising him, i'd say this is a turning point. this isn't just business as usual. he has made a bet, understandably, perhaps, that after iraq, we should avoid getting involved. now we have to get involved. >> but you are advising him. so much of this gets down to personal politics. in other words, the context, and the friends, and the associations in congress. and the president suspect not.
he's isolated not just from republicans but from the democratic party, a couple of months ago, i was talking to one of the chairman of the senate committees, a big obama supporter and saying where is the context; and thtion important, and he just pondered and said, i don't know how you can say that. in the last five years, the president has called me twice. in other words, he does not do the work to make the connections with these people that he needs. so when he gets in a pinch like this, he can call up, like lots of presidents and say, i need you on this. >> bob: i want to ask you about your book, because it's fascinating, and just to get an explanation of what's going on here. bob's book, the price of
politics came out now, and you have a new afterword in it, and it's got a trove of information and details. the bottom line is that it's going to be very difficult for this congress and this president to agree on much of anything. and i was just stunned by some of the direct quotes. i mean, you've got in there john boehner telling harry reid what he can do to himself. you've got alm kinds of quotes in there. how bad is it? >> what it shows, is speaker boehner at one point in the budget negotiations -- it gets tedious, he'll say, mr. president, on health care cuts, i want $600 billion, you want 400 billion. let's split the president, and the president says no, or the president will say to boehner,
look, man, we are $150 bill job apart, which is nothing over 10 years, and they can't work it out. i mean, call me baffled, these people who went into politics which is the business, at least in part of human relations, are practicing human relations. >> bob: do you see any hope that this is going to get any better? >> well, in this necessity, drives lots of things, but they need to spend the time on it. you know, we've all in one way or other been involved in negotiations, and you learn in negotiations in the end, the person on the other side of the table is your best friend. that's the person who can give you what you need. but they have not got to that point, and the budget issues and the fiscal issues. this spills over on the searyri issue. >> bob: let's talk about that.
danielle. there's one resolution circulating in the senate now, who says he'd like to give assad 45 days to sign the chemical weapons ban, and give him 45 days to take it apart, and we'll tell him we won't bomb until he does that. do you see any kind of future for anything like that or do you think that would help? >> well, you quoted president assad's interview with charlie rose. he's not owning the attack, and they're not interested in coming to the table. that's clear. and that's the problem on the leverage side. because we have no leverage, we kaeblt get to a diplomatic solution or a negotiated solution, because both sides think they have the ability to win. so for assad, the smartest thing for him to do is to say i'm horrified there may have been chemical weapons used. i believe they were used by rebels or rogue soldiers, or
whatever he wants to say, and i'm going to put it out there and invite an international inspector so you can secure them, and there will never be such accusations again. but, of course, that would impede him from using them again, and would also mean he's giving up what has been a key card for him, gaining superiority over the rebels. so i don't see that happening. what this means is just a non-stop formula for conflict is a military victory, whether after a u.s. military intervention or not is the way out. the question is how due get out there. i thought danielle mentioned ways to make progress. there has to be agreement
among the broad community. the president can't do that alone -- that's where we need to go, and pressure of many kinds. one of them supporting the president in the vote coming up with congress with many kinds of pressure, and needs to drive this towards negotiations. >> bob: basically what rogers is saying is look, you should not give people the time and exactly what you're going to do and say we're going to attack at 3:30 in the afternoon and only use x weapons. >> it's strange military actions. >> bob: i've never seen anything like that. >> it's like playing the day card -- it's not the way to do it. just one second on senator nunez and the house talking about this. i'm not for this, and i think there will be movement in the next week, if it looks like this is going to the house, and may go down to the senate to substitute some kind of -- ineffectual face saving resolution. >> i think speaker boehner doesn't get along with the
president, and i don't think anyone thinks they want the ment to lose the vote to authorize force. >> i don't think -- >> i think you will see momentum. reporting that, or finding a way out of this problem, and could end up this week. >> but i don't see some new yorks solving this. i mean, you have -- the president has made it very clear, i'm going to attack, and to not attack in some form might be a pin prick. to problem here is what do you achieve in all of the military work? >> but you know, once -- this is like george w. bush saying you can't just shoot a bunch of cruise missiles into tents, when he was talking about afghanistan. and thus proved. >> bob: does anybody think
that if the congress turns the president down, he may take military action? >> i can imagine that happening, bob. particularly if the senate pass this is, and he decides not to take it to the house because he thinks he'll lose there. it would be a dx*lt thick to do, but remember the situation on the ground in syria -- there's a lot of chemical weapons being moved around. you could imagine the situation changing in the way the president said he has to step in. but i think david at a critical point when he talked about the path way to a negotiated settlement. right there now a disconnect between what the president is telling his own base, which is a limited 48 hours we'll be in and out, it's not iraq. and then what he has to tell other senators conservatives who are concern thad there isn't a broader strategy, and would really like to see regime change. and for them he has to say
it's consequential. you heard that today. and he has to square that irk circle. you can't make an argument we'll go for two days and make a difference, and if you describe a concerted campaign to put pressure oit's going to lose a lot of votes on the left. >> bob: and also you cannot say what secretary of state kerry said. that this is not an act of war. if the chinese parked a submarine off manhattan island and decided to dump a couple of cruise missiles, i think we'd consider that an act of war. >> the problem is the president has been treating this international authorization question, the notion that this isn't my red line, this is the world's red line, and we would just be going in to enforce the world's red line. the president is he's used this as an a la carte menu. we care when these chemical
weapons are used. he's got a problem. we haven't talked about another problem we have. which is what are we telling the world here. what are we telling the syrian people? what are we say ing about american credibility? what are we telling the iranians. >> bob: i think when you come down to it, that's the bottom line. an enlightening discussion this morning. we can continue all afternoon on this, but we won't.
>> bob: that's it for us today. tune in to cbs this morning for charlie rose's interview with barb bashar al-assad. more on the rest of our cbs platforms as the day develops, it will air in entirety on the charlie rose show tomorrow. we'll see you right here next sunday on face the nation. who can show them how to build on your success, but not rely on it.
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