Damn, that’s going to leave a mark on the frail Obama psyche. We doubt liberal journalist Ron Fournier will be getting any more Obama facetime.
The good news is we’re not at war. The bad news is … almost everything else about President Obama’s handling of Syria – the fumbling and flip-flopping and marble-mouthing – undercut his credibility, and possibly with it his ability to lead the nation and world.
As he addressed a global audience Tuesday night, liberal elites blindly accepted White House fiction that Russian intervention this week was somehow part of Obama’s master plan. Their conservative counterparts practically rooted against a diplomatic breakthrough, preferring an Obama black eye over peace.
Obama won! Obama lost! The fact is it’s too soon to keep score. In the long view of this past week, I suspect the Syria standoff will stand as an example of the best and worst of Obama’s leadership. Granted, in the heat of the moment, it’s far easier to catalogue the worst.
He goes on to catalogue the best and worst. As if there’s any “best” to be had from his Syria disaster. One of the worst:
Too cute by half: Obama and his allies are masters of “spin,” packaging partial truths and outright distortions to a malleable public. With Syria, their dark arts are on full display. There is no other way to explain the White House disowning Secretary of State John Kerry’s call for Syria to turn over its stockpiles until the savvy Putin seized on the off-the-cuff remark as a way to protect ally Bashar al-Assad. Suddenly, the White House is touting the Putin plan as their brainchild, an outcome Obama had in mind when he travelled to Russia. Don’t buy it. A broader problem is the Obama White House’s inability to break through the clutter of 21st century media to educate and persuade Americans on policy, a communications conundrum that dates to the 2009 health-care debate.
His brief speech last night (why did he even bother?) was widely panned.
President Barack Obama’s Syria address was widely panned by leading foreign policy journalists on Tuesday night, leading to an intense pushback effort by top White House spokespeople on Twitter.
In messages directed at journalists from The New York Times, Bloomberg and other outlets, the White House communications team sought to wrest control of the narrative going forward even as the speech was being criticized as among the most ineffective in the history of the American presidency.
“Tonight’s speech was very probably the least consequential vitally important speech ever,” David Rothkopf, the CEO of the Foreign Policy Group tweeted. “President [sent] crystal clear message that on Syria the thing he feels strongest about is his own ambivalence.”
“Maybe it would have been better to have postponed the speech along with the vote,” wrote Jeffrey Goldberg, the Bloomberg View columnist. “After two years of saying Assad should go, the message now is Assad can stay. We just want to take away one of his weapons systems.”