Fox News First

White House: Ousting Assad not our aim

Will minimal response make matters worse?


** Always wanted Fox’s political must-reads? Now you can have them. Each weekday morning, our DC team, led by Chris Stirewalt, delivers the FOX NEWS FIRST political newsletter. Sign up here **

Buzz Cut:
• White House: Ousting Assad not our aim
• Obama marks MLK speech at 50
• IRS pain pill: ObamaCare fees
• GOP’s high-tech game plan
• Twerking into Oxford

PRESIDENT PONDERS PUNISHMENT FOR ASSAD - Obama’s options - On the heels of a Cabinet-level principles meeting on Syria last night, President Obama continues to weigh his options on military strikes. The administration specified Tuesday that the goal of a military response to alleged chemical attacks by the Syrian government is “not regime change,” although that has been the basis of U.S. policy toward Assad over the past two years. As pressure builds for action, the administration is apparently confining its options to punishing Assad for crossing Obama’s red line rather than take actions to tip the balance of power in the Syrian conflict. The president’s critics – hawks and doves alike – question the long range effectiveness.

Late breaking – AP: “UN special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi says evidence suggests that some kind of chemical “substance” was used in an attack that killed hundreds of people, but says any military strike on Syria must have U.N. Security Council approval.”   

Deep Dives on Intel – As the world awaits a promised administration release on evidence of Syrian Government chemical attack … Foreign Policy reports on calls intercepted by U.S. spies proving the Syrian army used nerve gas.  WSJ: “U.S. officials said privately that a flood of previously undisclosed intelligence, including satellite images and intercepted communications, convinced them the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons against its own people.”

[Related: Obama interviewPresident Obama is slated to do a sit down interview with PBS Newshour anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff this afternoon on his speech after his speech commemorating the March on Washington, and “news of the day” - read: Syria.]

Lawmakers press for approval Fox News: Members of Congress are demanding they at least have a say in the decision -- with some pressuring President Obama to first seek their approval. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va, .is asking colleagues to sign a letter to Obama urging him to reconvene Congress and seek approval first for any military action. The letter has over 33 co-signers, including one democrat. Sen. Tim Kaine D-Va., has echoed similar sentiments. 

Hours not days - Fox News:  Any U.S. strike against Syria is likely to last “hours not days” and probably would not come before the British Parliament votes on military action Thursday, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News. The WSJ reports the Arab League has demonstrated support for a strike but on the condition it has international backing.

“We are prepared. We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take.” –Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in an interview with the BBC.

Fox Poll Flashback- A Fox News poll, conducted in late June, revealed Americans felt the U.S. should not be involved in Syria at all. 44 percent of respondents said the U.S. should get out completely, with a broad bipartisan consensus.

Boehner: No meaningful congressional consultation – As several lawmakers call for congressional authorization of any U.S. action, Speaker John Boehner’s office says “there has been no meaningful consultation between the White House and Congress over possible U.S. military intervention in Syria … Pentagon officials briefed House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard ‘Buck’ McKeon, R-Calif., Monday night, a committee aide told the Washington Examiner.”

“The consequences are too great for Congress to be brushed aside” – Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep Ed Royce, R-Calif., in a statement.

Baier Tracks:  Congressional consent… The British Parliament debates military intervention Thursday morning, but Congress is still out on break and not scheduled to return until Sept. 9.  There are increasing calls from both sides of the aisle for Congress to be called back to pass an authorization for the president to act against Syria.  And now, as is often the case, the easiest form of punditry is the pulling of soundbites from another time with another administration in power, where the current players have very different takes on executive action. Then Senator Biden is perhaps the most forceful, but Candidate Obama had some doosies too. Bottom line - Congress will want to have a say and without it - it strengthens the hands of the libertarian wings of the parties, who say starting this without proper consent and counsel is ill-advised at best, illegal at worst.- Bret Baier

[Watch FOX: Rep. Pete King R-N.Y. discusses how President Obama can take action in Syria without congressional authorization in the 10 a.m. ET hour]

KING’S DREAM, 50 YEARS LATER- President Obama delivers remarks this afternoon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. In an interview Tuesday with radio show host Tom Joyner, President Obama said, “[A]ll I can do on an occasion like this is just to celebrate the accomplishments of all of those folks whose shoulders we stand on and then remind people that the work is still out there for us to do.”  Others on the program of the Let Freedom Ring ceremony at Washington’s Lincoln Memorial: Presidents Carter and Clinton, members of the King family, civil rights activists and stars of screen and stage, including Oprah Winfrey.

Preview - WaPo: “According to those he has spoken to, Obama will say that gay men and lesbians, women’s rights advocates, immigration activists, and African Americans must come together as a coordinated political movement to defend rights in peril, particularly at the ballot box, and to secure new ones in such areas as marriage equality and criminal sentencing.”

Related: Trending Today on Fox News Opinion – FNC’s Kelly Wright,  “How does King's daughter view America 50 years after her father's dream?” - “Were he living today, Dr. King would listen to politicians, civil rights and faith leaders agitate bloviate, instigate and aggravate. Then he would seek to elevate, motivate and demonstrate God's view for healing the painful wounds of the past and bridge the deep divide with the bonds of reconciliation.”

[Watch Fox: for continuing coverage of today’s Let Freedom Ring commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington]

Flashback - PBS host Tavis Smiley in USA Today earlier this month pondered the upcoming speech by President Obama and the commemoration amid the realities of King’s legacy and of race in America today. “…because King will not be there to challenge the discourse, will his message of unarmed truth and unconditional love be sanitized? Will there be pressure not to embarrass the president by representing the best of the black prophetic tradition? Sadly, I fear, the status quo is safe.”

IRS SETS PENALTIES FOR OBAMACARE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE - Reuters: The IRS on Tuesday spelled out penalties for not complying with ObamaCare’s individual mandate. “If individuals choose not to carry insurance, they are subject to a penalty, starting at $95 per person per year or 1 percent of income in 2014, whichever is greater, and eventually reaching $695 per person or 2.5 percent of income by 2016”

WALKER: OBAMACARE NOT WORTH GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN -Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., told the Washington Examiner’s Byron York, “I think people … want less government, want limited government, but we want government that works, and I don’t think shutting things down makes anything work.”  Walker made the remarks following an event kicking off the re-election efforts of Gov. Nikki Haley R-S.C.

MI APPROVES MEDICAID EXPANSION-USA Today: Michigan became the 25th state to approve the Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare, following eight hours of intense debate. The measure, which passed by two votes, expands Medicaid health care coverage to 470,000 low-income residents in the Great Lakes State.

LEW DOUBLES DOWN ON DEBT LIMIT- Appearing on CNBC, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reiterated that President Obama will not negotiate with House Republicans on the debt limit. Lew added, “Congress has already authorized funding, committed us to make expenditures. We are now in the place where the only question is, will we pay the bills the United States has incurred?”

CENSUS: HOMES WITH UNEMPLOYED PARENTS ON RISE - According to a new census report on families and living arrangements, the number of homes with at least one parent that is out-of-work has jumped a third from 2005 to 2011. California and New Jersey both saw over 60 percent increases.

On today’s anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream Speech,” King’s son and human rights activist Martin Luther King III writes in a WaPo OpEd: “Although significant progress has been made in some areas, too many Americans have inadequate opportunities to escape poverty, joblessness, discrimination, social neglect and violence.”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

Real Clear Politics Averages

Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.8 percent//Disapprove – 50.5 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.6 percent//Wrong Track – 62 percent 

OFF TO THE RACES  - Christie gaining momentum –Washington Times: “With three months to go before he [Gov. Chris Christie] faces voters in his quest for another term as governor, the rotund Republican looks poised to run away with a double-digit victory that could build momentum for a 2016 presidential bid.”

Rubio to shake DC money tree –  Politico reports Sen. Marco Rubio R-Fla. is expected to raise six-figures from D.C. mega donors at a Sept. 18 event at the Hill Country BBQ.

Rick Perry Returns to Iowa- TheDes Moines Register reports Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, will head back to Iowa this November for his first appearance since the 2012 election. Perry will be speaking at the Polk County Republican’s Fall Dinner.  

GOP ramps up digital efforts- The Washington Examiner reports on the GOP’s new initiative to build a digital voter ID network that they hope rivals the one President Obama and Democrats used in the past two elections. One of the innovations they plan is to “…collect data from social networks about targeted demographic groups and allow a campaign to deliver customized digital ads to as few as a dozen or so voters.”

US ENVOY SEEKS RELEASE OF N. KOREAN MISSIONARY- Fox News - A U.S. envoy will travel to North Korea later this week to try and secure the release of Kenneth Bae, an American missionary sentenced to 15 years hard labor in the country earlier this year.  Bae has reportedly lost 50 pounds since he was sentenced.

PRECARIOUS PUTIN PAINTING SEIZED- Fox News - Russian police raided an art gallery late Monday to seize a painting that depicted President Vladimir Putin and former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in women’s underwear. A Russian law against insulting authorities carries a one-year prison term for some offenders.

A MILEY CYRUS INSPIRED ADDITION?-SkyNews:“Twerking, the term most recently used to describe Miley Cyrus' lewd bump and grind move at the MTV awards, has made it into the Oxford dictionary. For the unenlightened, it is defined as “The twerk, v.: dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.”

AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…“I think there has to be a debate on whether this is in the strategic interest of the United States. It shouldn't be a moral spasm as a reaction to a chemical weapons attack.  That's not why you go to war. You go to war if it will be important for our security ultimately. Either it is or it isn't.” - Charles Krauthammer, on “Special Report with Bret Baier

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here. To catch Chris live online daily at 11:30 a.m. ET, click here

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.