Lipinski gauges public views on Syria attack
By Mike Nolan
Sun-Times Media Group
At the district offices of U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd), the phone calls and emails have been pouring in in recent days, all on the same topic — possible U.S. military action in Syria.
Most, according to his staff, are opposed to a military strike, and the issue was on the minds of a few commuters Lipinski spoke with Wednesday morning on the platform of the 143rd Street Metra station in Orland Park.
The informal “meet-and-greet” was intended to gauge sentiment on current issues. But with Congress scheduled to soon vote on a resolution giving the Obama administration the ability to respond to an alleged sarin gas attack on Syrian civilians, those who did stop to chat wanted to know where Lipinski stands.
He said he is “open to supporting a strike,” but, like many of his fellow legislators, isn’t going to write the administration a blank check.
Lipinski said a resolution needs to be carefully worded in order to “in some ways constrain the president.”
“Everyone is very concerned about giving (Obama) too much of a free hand,” he said.
Lipinski said he wants to know just what type of action the president is planning and how long it will last. Most importantly, he said, any resolution must contain an ironclad guarantee that whatever occurs won’t involve the use of ground troops.
“After Iraq and Afghanistan, no one wants to repeat that,” he said.
The administration has said it plans to use missile strikes, rather than troops, to respond to the alleged gas attack, which killed more than 1,400.
The generally negative tone of the calls and emails to his office indicates Americans have no appetite for a protracted military engagement in Syria, Lipinski said.
“Everyone is war-weary and afraid of getting sucked into another war,” he told one Metra rider.
While staffers tried to steer commuters toward Lipinski, most were more focused on catching their train than a conversation, although a few gave a quick handshake before moving along.
Some, such as Orland Park resident Cara Buikema, who spoke briefly with the congressman, said she was in agreement with him that any resolution Congress votes on needs to limit the scope of military action.
Although he was a frequent visitor to Metra stations while campaigning, this was the first time Lipinski had been to a train to hear from constituents and planned to hold similar events at other Metra stops.
“It’s a good way to reach people,” he said.
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