An underreported aspect of President Obama's recent decision to seek Congress's voice on punishing Assad's use of sarin gas is that it is the first time since George Washington that a president has chosen not to grab the greatest amount of power possible.
In his speech, the president revealed his thinking process as he considers Congress's clamor to have its say. It is as if he remembers that he believed the same as a member of the Senate. At this point he detours from the norm of past presidents and makes a principled decision to seek the support of the American people through their representatives in Congress.
This is a radical appeal to democracy. President Obama may still act even if Congress votes no if he either decides that the people are with him or if it is morally necessary. Going to Congress is not legally necessary. He is giving the people (through Congress), and indeed the whole world, the opportunity to do what is morally right. I wonder if we, as citizens of the world, have the maturity to know what that moral course is.
Frederick I. White
Salt Lake City