Meet the Press   |  September 01, 2013

Kristol: President 'did the right thing'

A Meet the Press roundtable reviews the president's decision to seek Congress' authorization for a Syria strike.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> to. bill kristol , you posted this yesterday afternoon, a full debate at "the weekly standard ," a full debate in congress would be appropriate and desirable. do you applaud the president for making this switch?

>> yes. i mean, i wish we had intervened or he could have intervened a year or two ago, we would have had better options. there was no reason not to go to congress and good reasons to go. i think he did the right thing. i think we'll have a healthy national debate if next week or two. i think he'll prevail in congress . and i think the republican party will support the president, do the right thing for the country despite doubts about the character of the military assault he's about to launch. i think the republican party will step up and do the right thing and support the president against a chemical weapons using terror-responsibilitiering, iran-backed dictator.

>> gwen ifill , the inside washington intrigue is about the whiplash.

>> yes.

>> the president was ramping up for war and then said, no, let's go to congress first.

>> everybody was told that same story of him walk option ting on the south lawn with his chief of staff and changing his mind. he's concerned about his credibility with the american people . he's hoping congress is now concerned about their credibility with the american people . and there's a credibility question involving the syrian rebels who are now saying they're feeling a little bit abandoned, as if all of a sudden the u.s. is taking their sweet time when they feel they've got a problem. it was interesting that david axelrod , robert's old friend, the president's adviser, immediately tweeted out yesterday, well, the republicans have now -- the dog can now clock the car. it's on them. the white house wasn't unhappy about that characterization.

>> robert, i want to go to that. as press secretary and been around the president a long time, i know he's spoken about the fact that congress will complain, congress will criticize, but congress doesn't cast a tough vote. congress has failed republicans and democrats to revisit the authorization given the president after 9/11.

>> right. well, i think -- this is a deliberative president. this was a -- look, in many ways, this president became both the nominee of the party and the president of the united states as a reaction to the way we went into war without a rationale in iraq. right? so this is a president who's acting very deliberate ly and i think believes our coalition and the breadth of it is strengthened when not just the commander in chief but the representatives of the people weigh in on behalf of intervention by the u.s. military .

>> is he deliberative or is he too cautious or did he -- was he angrier by saying let congress put up or shut up here?

>> look, i think this is much, much more about presenting to the world a united american front , because let's be clear, the audiences that you talk about are not just in damascus. right? they're in tehran. they're with hezbollah. they're in a lot of places in the middle east . and i think projecting a united front by the united states is tremendously important. you can certainly quibble with and criticize the sequencing of the week's events, having kerry go out so vociferously both monday and friday. but i think in the end the president believes the strength is in a broad coalition.

>> katty, what do you say about all this?

>> i think rob setter being diplomatic at best. the sequencing of the week's events looks indecisive at best and perhaps weak and muddled at worst. i mean, it was an extraordinary week in which you had kerry come out effectively and say this terrible thing has happened, we have to respond, and then at the end of the week the president changes course. you can make the counter argument that people in israel and people in iran are watching the deliberations this week and thinking america is going to vacillate and is not going to act until it goes to congress . that causes delays, and it's causing quite a lot of uncertainty around the world. in that region in europe as well. what is the american strategy here? it looks confused. it looks unclear. it looks even as if the military outcomes and the political outcomes are not clearly laid out and clearly aligned.