Inside Syria strike politics: Who is uniting to create "consensus against action"

Dickerson: American people worried about Syri... 02:32

(CBS News) President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are trying to pull the campaign for a military strike against Syria out of politics and into a discussion about chemical weapons as a violation of an international norm. However, as CBS News political director John Dickerson said on "CBS This Morning," Syria has become the political football du jour, uniting some usually discordant factions in Congress.

"The idea is 'Here, this line has been crossed and we must react. This is an offense that is larger than politics,' and so when (Speaker of the House) John Boehner and Eric Cantor, the two leaders in the House of the Republicans support the measure, it does that, it pulls that away from politics, so it helps in that larger way," Dickerson said.

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"But in the nitty-gritty, vote-by-vote, getting Republicans in the House of Representatives to back this president that they don't like, John Boehner's help is only kind of marginal because he said to those members, 'You're on your own on this. I'm not going to push you to vote for it for party. You've got to do this because, as he said, this is a United States of America thing."

In the past in Congress, Dickerson explained, there was usually a consensus on foreign relations matters when national security moments came up. But now, he said, "there is no such consensus in part because those libertarians on the Republican side are joining with kind of doves on the Democratic side to create a consensus that is against action. And so it's the rise of those libertarians, and particularly the kind of charismatic ones like Rand Paul who give voice to this argument, and oh, by the way, that argument has a lot of purchase out in the country where people are worried about a backlash. Worried if we start sending missiles, all chaos will be unleashed."

A Pew Research Center, Aug. 29-Sept. 1 poll finds 29 percent of Americans favor airstrikes against Syria, 28 percent oppose the move and 23 percent don't know.

To respond to that unease among the American people, Dickerson said the president must go further to make the case for the strikes. However, Dickerson added, even if the president does make another push for the strikes, he still may not convince the public. Pointing to a Pew Research Center poll that found 74 percent of Americans fear a backlash if the U.S. strikes Syria, Dickerson said, "You can tailor this operation in any way you want, and it still doesn't get to that fundamental question, will there be a backlash? ... I mean that (there are fears that) Iran will go crazy. That Russia will. That there will be a kind of Pandora's box that will open once we send the first missile, and you can change this resolution any way you want. It doesn't get at that question."

For more with Dickerson, watch his full report above.