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October 22nd, 2018

Insight

Syria boils over, but Congress finds Facebook and porn stars more intriguing

John Kass

By John Kass

Published April 13,2018

Syria boils over, but Congress finds Facebook and porn stars more intriguing

With World War III threatening to break out in Syria, with President Donald Trump threatening missile strikes and Russia ominously issuing warnings, at least Congress has finally decided to do something.

And in true bipartisan fashion, what they've decided to do is this:

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

They won't put their lips near Syria, since they've got more important things to do, like learning all about social media from Facebook czar Mark Zuckerberg, and showing up on cable news to talk about that porn star business.

The recent Syrian chemical attacks on Syrian rebels? Possible escalation with multiple powerful armies colliding in a hot zone? Really, who's got the time to talk about that?

Nobody.

The topics that are important in America are porn stars and speculating about when special counsel Robert Mueller puts Trump's head on a spike. That's the stuff that drives ratings and clicks. And yes, they're important issues.

But Syria? Really?

It's not as if Archduke Ferdinand is driving around Damascus or anything. Is he?

If Jimmy Kimmel asked his audience about Archduke Ferdinand, there's a chance many wouldn't know him from The Rock. Maybe one would guess that the archduke got himself shot and a war broke out somewhere. They might even remember his killer mustache.

But really, who cares about history when we've got the intrigues of porn stars to discuss?

Having assessed the American mind, leading lawmakers say they won't hold a vote authorizing U.S. military strikes on Syria.

They're only the Congress. They don't want to get bogged down in a messy debate over what role their co-equal branch of government should play in all that messiness.

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire doesn't think there's a need to talk about missile strikes.

"To initiate the kind of thing he (Trump) did last year? I think he has the authority to do that," she was quoted as saying.

In bipartisan fashion, Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agreed.

"I think for a surgical strike, they (the White House) easily have the authority to do it," Corker was quoted as saying.

Come to think of it, Syria sounds so complicated and boring and foreign policy-ish, and impossibly nerdy. A column on Syria won't generate clicks.

I should write on a topic that's easy and clicktastic, declaring that the president is a psycho, or asserting that Melania is a traitor to women for not smacking POTUS with a frying pan. Or maybe delving into the sexual proclivities of some political group -- just as long as I put plenty of steamy sex in it, I'd be a success.

But Syria? C'mon, man. That's boring.

What's worse is that Syria is messy, what with U.S. and Russian troops on the ground, and Iran propping up Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, and our NATO ally Turkey killing our Kurdish allies, and Israel authorizing its own airstrikes against terrorist threats. It's a toxic stew.

Some worry that toxic stew could soon boil over. So let's change the subject and talk about Zuckerberg or ask Stormy Daniels' lawyer what he thinks about things.

If you programmed an hour of cable news with Stormy Daniels talking about Trump, and I programmed an hour discussing the mess in Syria -- with Russia and Iran and Turkey and the Kurds colliding -- who would win the ratings war?

You would. You and Stormy Daniels would kick Syria's behind all over the map, until of course, the map burned to cinders.

Syria was beyond former President Barack Obama's capabilities, with Assad gassing his own people, and ISIS slaughtering Christians, Obama drawing a red line in the sand, saying he wouldn't tolerate any more gas attacks.

But then he caved and Russia's Vladimir Putin stepped in to "help."

Obama (blessed be his name) had his own problems, like helping Iran become a nuclear power in the hope that once they went nuclear, the Iranians would be nice and play by the rules.

In a New York Times Magazine interview, Ben Rhodes, the Obama foreign policy guru, mocked pro-Obama journalists as useful idiots, easily manipulated on the Iran deal because their organizations don't cover foreign news.

"The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns," Rhodes said. "That's a sea change. They literally know nothing."

Later, Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, convinced the know-nothings that the Obama administration had skillfully made sure Syria had rid itself of all chemical weapons.

"We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile," Rice bragged in an interview with NPR's "Morning Edition" in January 2017.

She probably shouldn't have bragged that much, since Assad didn't exactly get rid of his chemical weapons. Instead he has used them, murdering his own people, who cough their lungs out upon the ground.

Trump lobbed missiles upon him, and now, with another chemical attack on Syrian rebels, Trump talks of a military response and Russia threatens to shoot American missiles out of the sky.

"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'" Trump threatened on Twitter. "You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

It sounds as if things could escalate. But Congress can't be bothered. They've got other interests.

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John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune who also hosts a radio show on WLS-AM.

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