In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt contrived a plan to send all 16 of America’s battleships -- his beloved Great White Fleet -- steaming around the globe, to prove that the U.S. was now a great maritime power. When word got out, Congress balked, threatening to withhold funds for what was regarded as a wasteful extravagance. Roosevelt responded that he already had the money he needed, adding: “Try and get it back!”
This story comes to mind in the wake of President Barack Obama’s unexpected decision to seek congressional approval before taking any action in Syria. According to reports, Obama surprised even his closest advisers when he told them that he preferred to act only with legislative authorization. Predictably, an avalanche of criticism has followed.