White House staffers had a major cleanup job on their hands after President Obama got done with his statement on a pair of global crises today.
“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama responded when asked whether he would approach Congress for authorization to intervene with the Islamic State in Syria.
Here’s his full response (H/T: Zero Hedge):
QUESTION: Do you need Congress’s approval to go into Syria?
OBAMA: You know, I have consulted with Congress throughout this process. I am confident that as commander in chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops, we will continue to consult with Congress, and I do think that it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in and we’re – that our consultations with Congress continue to develop so that the American people are part of the debate.
But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.
I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are. And I think that’s not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military, as well. We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard.
But there’s no point in me asking for action on the part of Congress before I know exactly what it is that is going to be required for us to get the job done.
That would sound prudent, maybe, if the Islamic State (at the time calling itself ISIS) hadn’t been storming Mosul and Kirkuk, while obliterating a swath of the Iraq-Syria border, in June. Regardless of whether you advocate a strong statement of intent to do something or to do nothing, this isn’t a crisis hasn’t exactly crept up on the world.
Press Secretary Josh Earnest was on Twitter ASAP, saying exactly the opposite of what Obama had just said:
In his remarks today, POTUS was explicit – as he has been in the past – about the comprehensive strategy we’ll use to confront ISIL threat.
— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) August 28, 2014