CONGRESS//15th DISTRICT | In all fairness to Rep. Eric Swalwell he did once tell President Barack Obama, while attending a Bay Area fundraiser, that he had his back. After voicing support for military intervention in Syria a week ago, Swalwell either heard the rising tenor of constituents against such an attack, is following the President’s new course of action, or probably both.
In a statement following Obama’s televised speech Tuesday night, reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Swalwell advocated for allowing the latest Russian-led diplomatic efforts run their course instead of the rush to military action initially pushed by the Obama administration.
“I support President Obama’s decision to pursue a diplomatic solution to rid the Assad regime of chemical weapons and postpone military action in Syria. This approach, if successful, helps ensure that never again will this ruthless dictator gas innocent civilians, including children, to death.
“I strongly believe that the response to Assad’s chemical attacks on his own people is not limited to a false choice between military action and inaction. Rather, we must relentlessly engage the international community and exhaust all possible diplomatic solutions. I will continue to monitor the situation in Syria as it progresses.”
The political pause may be a blessing for Swalwell and other moderates on either side of the aisle. Swalwell’s initial stance on Sept. 3 indicated he would vote with the Democratic House leadership led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who favor military intervention. For instance, Swalwell did not sign a letter written by progressive Rep. Barbara Lee calling for congressional approval of such action. To highlight the confusion among moderates over how to proceed with Syria, inland moderates like Rep. John Garamendi sided with Lee, while Swalwell and Rep. Jerry McNerney did not.
Ultimately, avoiding, at least for the time being, a controversial vote on Syria serves Swalwell–well. A freshman congressman heading into his first re-election year while caught between toeing the leadership’s line and constituents increasingly weary of another military skirmish is not a favorable position. Besides, even if a vote is called, it’s not entirely clear voters in the 15th congressional district will even care about Syria this time next year.