For over a week Congressman Rob Andrews has been stating that he’s still undecided whether the United States should use military force against the government of Syria.
Prior to President Obama’s speech last Saturday, August 31, Andrews told the media that he was undecided and “it would be a mistake for the United States to act without careful deliberation and a clear objective and strategy.”
Then, on Tuesday, September 3, Andrews reiterated to CNN that he was skeptical of American involvement in the Syria civil war.
Two days later, Andrews told Politico, “I will review all of the relevant intelligence, listen to my constituents and evaluate what is right for the security of the county. I enter this process very skeptical that we should involve our troops in the middle of anyone’s civil war.”
By the end of the week, do you think he figured out his position? Nope. Instead, Andrews told MyCentralJersey, “I have not determined my position. I have determined that I will spend a lot of time listening to constituents.” He also said he hadn’t yet read classified reports about the alleged chemical weapons attack, but planned to do so on Monday when Congress returns to session after a month-long break.
So after a week of discussing the Syrian intervention with constituents, as he claims on his Facebook page, Andrews’s only determination is that he will spend more time listening to constituents.
Yesterday, Andrews told Phillyburbs that he wanted to see all the classified evidence before making a decision. Other representatives and senators received briefings throughout the week. For example, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, one of Andrews’s Democratic colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee, attended a classified hearing on Thursday, September 4, which helped her make a decision days ago.
Throughout the week, Congressman Andrews continually said that he wants to see “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” The evidence whether or not the Syrian government used chemical weapons is not in South Jersey. It is in Washington.
If I represented New Jersey’s 1st Congressional District, I would have returned to Washington last weekend to attend the Administration’s Congressional briefings and the classified hearings this week. Then, I would have spent the remaining time discussing with military action constituents. I think town hall meetings would provide a perfect setting for a congressman to present information to constituents and for constituents to discuss their concerns. I do not think visiting a few, select constituents throughout the week provides enough insight into the district’s opinion on this important matter.
How can Congressman Andrews expect constituents to make an informed decision when he, our representative, doesn’t even know the full picture? That’s not leadership. That’s a politician.
Matthew Harris is a Democratic candidate challenging Congressman Rob Andrews in the June 2014 Primary.