By Joe Mathieu, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (CBS) –  It’s not often you see a Washington lawmaker choose not to weigh-in on a critical issue. Especially at the committee level.

But that’s exactly what Senator Ed Markey did Wednesday when faced with a vote on the authorization of force in Syria. He did not vote to approve it. And he did not vote it down.

Instead he voted “present.”

For what it’s worth, it’s considered a huge honor for a senator to sit on the Foreign Relations Committee – tasked with making very important and difficult decisions on a regular basis with the information available.

Every other member of the panel yesterday voted yes or no.

Senator Markey explained his vote by saying he needs to do more homework and consider more classified intelligence. And he promised to be prepared for an up or down vote in the full Senate.

You could argue that it’s his duty to be prepared for a committee vote as well. Particularly in light of aggressive efforts by the White House to give lawmakers as much info as possible. And because the committee has access to classified intelligence many others don’t see.

Senator Markey has no shortage of critics on this score. Even one Democratic strategist told me Thursday that Markey’s vote was “hard to fathom,” theorizing that Markey was afraid to vote in a way that he may be forced to contradict in the full Senate.

Like voting for it before he votes against it.

But I wonder if this says more about Senator Markey or the trouble the president may be facing in convincing his own party to go along with this.

That’s because the president cannot count on broad Republican support next week and he will need some liberal Democrats to get the authorization he wants.

Follow Joe on Twitter @joemathieuwbz


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