President Obama's Congressional approval request on Syria achieved 5 key political objectives. It is a win-win for him and here's why.
Firstly, President Obama remained true to "Candidate Obama" by requesting Congressional approval on a military strike against Syria. He stated that he believes he "has the authority", but believes it is better for everyone if Congress approves. He understands that House Republicans would vilify him for it later.
This leads to point two...
By passing the final decision onto Congress, President Obama is "off the hook" if Congress does not side with the president and something far worse results from doing nothing. His Congressional approval request on Syria takes the responsibility off his shoulders whether it turns out that a military strike was warranted or not. Directly resulting in point three: the president maintains his credibility in this case because he authorized force while Congress refused to act.
Fourthly, by seeking Congressional approval, the president is no longer alone in his quest for punishing the Assad regime. He is now in the company of British Prime Minister David Cameron who recently lost a vote in the House of Commons on a Syrian resolution.
And finally, arguable most importantly, President Obama bought himself some time while still looking decisive. He firmly stated that he is prepared at any moment to authorize military force against Syria, but he also has time to analyze the results of the UN inspections (as will Congress) before the Congressional vote on the matter. UN inspectors have collected samples and results will prove or disprove the user of chemical weapons. Proving responsibility is something else, but President Obama believes we already have the proof of that.
Nice play calling, Mr. President. What say ye, Congress?