For one of the clearest illustrations yet of the complex and unpredictable nature of the Syria strike voting dynamics in Congress, consider the Arkansas delegation and its pair of statewide candidates.
When he was first a candidate for the Senate, Democrat Mark Pryor backed a Republican president, George W. Bush, when he sought congressional authority to attack Iraq to prevent its threatened use of chemical weapons. But this past weekend, Pryor announced that he’ll almost certainly vote against a resolution backing the president of his own party, who wants to launch military strikes against Syria for using chemical weapons.
Barack Obama, he said, has not proved “a compelling national security interest,” defined “a mission that has a definitive end-state” or built an international coalition to collaborate in an attack.
Pryor’s 2014 challenger, Rep. Tom Cotton, last week completed his own even faster whiplash-inducing maneuver — going the other way.
Cotton won the House seat covering the fertile expanses south and west of Little Rock last year by campaigning against whatever policies Obama advocated, at home or abroad. But, even before Obama asked Congress for backing on Syria, the freshman congressman had emerged as one of the most vocal and enthusiastic proponents in either party of the president’s approach.
American action is needed, he said, to uphold international opposition to chemical weapon use, reassure Israel and other Middle East allies and preserve the global credibility of a president he generally disdains. “Put simply, our core national security interests are at stake,” he said in direct rebuttal of the Pryor view.
These opposite-spinning evolutions are a reminder that, whenever the “all politics is local” aphorism doesn’t explain how electoral rivals ended up in the same place, the “all politics is situational” corollary probably helps explain why they’re not. Full story