The Corner

Krauthammer’s Take

From Monday night’s Fox News All-Stars.

On the White House considering new sanctions against Syria:

Look, what’s happening today in Daraa — what we saw, the tanks and the infantry behind them as if it’s the Russian army on the western front taking over cities in Germany in the Second World War — is what Qaddafi had threatened to do in Benghazi. They go door-to-door, they’re grabbing people, kidnapping, stabbing, and shooting them, indiscriminately. It is a massacre. It’s exactly what was … threatened to happen in Libya and which finally stirred Obama to do something.

So what is he stirred to do now? Let’s remember how late the administration is, how much it is leading from the rear. Two weeks ago the secretary of state is calling Assad a reformer at a time when he’s already shooting people in the streets. Then essentially two weeks of silence as all of this is going on. And now where it’s really at the level of a massacre and a national crackdown, door-to-door, a regime completely at war with its people — what do we get?

A statement issued from the White House on a Friday. It was a strong statement, but where is the president? He spoke out on television, addressed the world twice on Egypt, he did it on Libya. [Now] he’s nowhere to be seen.

This sanction that we are threatening is ridiculous. What is being threatened is that we may, in time, draft a sanction that will freeze assets held in the U.S. [by high Syrian officials]. If you’re a Syrian official and you hear that, you’ve wired your money out — tonight. There’s none left. So it’s completely empty.

We have one way to demonstrate our opposition, the oldest diplomatic gesture in the world — you withdraw your ambassador. Jay Carney says: Oh no, we want people in place [in Damascus] to convey our unhappiness with what’s happening. Well in the 1500s you had to have an ambassador on the scene. Today we actually have … television! And telephones! So you don’t have to have an ambassador in place. The policy is incomprehensible, it’s a disgrace strategically and from a humanitarian perspective.

On the push for a balanced budget amendment in return for raising the debt ceiling:

It’s a terrible idea. For one reason — it’ll take a long time to be enacted. It doesn’t happen overnight. You need three-quarters of the states. There are many states who get a lot money from the feds who may oppose it. So there’s no guarantee it would ever pass. It doesn’t depend only on Washington.

And by the time that it passes, you and I will be getting our checks in yuan or in pesos.

It’s [deficit reduction] got to be done now. And here’s how you do it – it’s not that difficult. You put structural constraints on spending. Not on debt but on spending. Which would mean that it requires, say, two-thirds of the House and the Senate to overturn these restraints.

Now, you would counter and say: Yes, but a [simple] majority of the Congress could at any point change that law. But as long as the Republicans retain control of one house, it can’t be overturned. Meaning, it would require the Democrats to sweep the presidency, the House, and the Senate to overturn that. In other words, it [the spending caps] would be in place indefinitely in the absence of such a sweep.

That would be real spending restraint. It would be instituted immediately — far superior to a balanced budget amendment.

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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