The question of whether and when a president has the authority to engage in military action without the consent of Congress has long been a matter of debate. But the spectacle of a president asking for congressional approval while suggesting he may do what he wants anyway raises serious constitutional questions.
Meanwhile, Assad is crowing about how he faced down mighty America and warning about a regional conflagration if the U.S. dares attack. It is only a matter of time before more chemical bombs fall on helpless Syrian civilians.
Lost amid the chaos is the question of whether it is in the national interest to intervene in a faraway civil war in which both the government and the rebels are unsavory characters.
This is nothing short of a debacle for American foreign policy, the consequences of which the country may face for years to come.