September 6, 2013

"Obama's strategic languidness has put lawmakers in a position such that many of them will be unable to vote either 'yes' or 'no' in good conscience."

"And with his failure to develop even a political strategy for approaching Congress on this matter, he has managed the dubious achievement of leading the U.S. into a foreign-policy quagmire without firing a shot."

ADDED: When we look back at Barack Obama, what will we say? I think it will have to do with the way we wanted to believe that the old parental "use words" admonition was the best advice and we conned ourselves into seeing him as the embodiment of that fantasy, and he tried to be our dream.

But the world isn't that pretty, and the dream doesn't make much sense unless enough people to play along. Giving him the Nobel Peace Prize in advance was part of the shared dream: Come on, everyone into the delusion.

But the "use words" approach gave way to using bombs, which were supposed to be enough like words that we wouldn't wake from the dream. Bombs express our disapproval of the worse things done on the ground, the ground which our "boots" never touch.

52 comments:

JackOfVA said...

The Presidential version of a "present" vote.

If things go well, Obama will take the credit; if they go bad, then it's someone else responsible. G.W. Bush, the Congress, Republicans, etc.

Hagar said...

Three good reasons for not going to war in Syria (or anywhere else at this time):
Barack Obama
Chuck Hagel
John F. Kerry

MadisonMan said...

Being unable to articulate the reasons for entering a war was one of my biggest beefs with Bush.

You'd think a Nobel Laureate former Law Instructor would be able to craft some verbiage, but apparently not.

What makes politicians so tongue-tied when it's important? It's like they're used to saying nothing of substance when campaigning and they can't break free of that mindset.

Matthew Sablan said...

Oh, the irony if enough people vote present to cost him the vote.

Oso Negro said...

Languid, yes, perhaps even flaccid.

Lyle said...

Say it with me now... "This is what bi-partisanship looks like!".

What do we want? "Bipartisanship!" When do we want it" "Now!"

President Obama is finally bringing Republicans and Democrats together in the spirit of bipartisanship.

Mark O said...

There is something horribly disturbing about a man who cannot accept personal responsibility for his own words.

damikesc said...

"The world drew a red line"

We did? I sure as hell don't remember saying it, but I could've been sleepy at the time.

Did the professor draw a red line? How about Meade? Any commenter here? How about Instapundit? Ace of Spades? I'd mention MSNBC "personalities", but man, those are war-mongering mofos now.

Who in "the world" drew this line ... well, except for Obama --- who apparently didn't really mean it?

madAsHell said...

There is something horribly disturbing about a man who cannot accept personal responsibility for his own words.

....cuz he always has Candy Crowley.

Levi Starks said...

Negotiate with Republicans on vital issues concerning the US economy? Never!
Negotiate with Republicans in an attempt to gain approval/cover to bomb a nation on the other side of the world? No Problem.

While I realize the elite of academia will never question Obamas competency/narcissism problems when they write the history books, There is I suppose some small hope that in 10 or 20 years when the leaders of todays world write their memoirs they may not paint quite the same rosy picture when describing their dealings with the current president.

tim in vermont said...

I think every lawmaker should ask themselves "What would Obama do if he were in my shoes?" Then vote accordingly.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

If you set out to "change the world", you at least ought to have some slight clue as to how that world works. Obama did not, and does not.

Clueless on the international scene and a Chicago thug at home.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Being unable to articulate the reasons for entering a war was one of my biggest beefs with Bush."

-- Bush addressed the nation and convinced Congress to go to war with him, along with a coalition of the willing. He articulated his reasons well enough to, literally, convince his harshest critics at the time (Democrats) and the world. It is revisionist history at best to say that he was unable to articulate his position.

PH said...

The "unusual alliance of Tea Party Republicans and antiwar Democrats" is actually one I'm excited to see. Of course it is telling when there are far more in the solid "no" category than in the solid "yes" category. Perhaps a chance to see which politicians listen to their constituents.

Clyde said...

We'll look back on Obama and say that he was a classic Affirmative Action hire, placed in a position that he didn't merit and was unqualified for, at which he failed spectacularly.

Alternatively, he'll be the picture in the dictionary next to "The Peter Principle," although to be honest, his level of incompetence probably was several levels below POTUS. That is simply the one that the electorate chose to give him, not once but twice. Fool you once, shame on him; fool you twice...

(Some of us were not fooled either time and have "I Told You So!" rights until January 2017.)

Michael K said...

The hippies should be proud. This is what their president, elected long after hippies grew up, looks like.

"Whatever, dude."

Paco Wové said...

"What makes politicians so tongue-tied when it's important? It's like they're used to saying nothing of substance when campaigning and they can't break free of that mindset."

Looking at it from a Darwinian perspective, being very good at 'campaigning' is what the modern American political system selects for. 'Governing', well, that's not even an afterthought.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

...the ground which our "boots" never touch.

I thought the latest word from Kerry was boots on the ground were still on the table.

Paul said...

Why use "languidness," which my autocorrect doesn't even recognize, instead of "languor"?

WaitingToBuy said...

"and he tried to be our dream"

Seriously! He's broken virtually every campaign promise.

Ann, I think you still have blinders on.

Chuck said...

I can think of a lot of words to describe Obama's handling of Syria:

Unprincipled
Muddled
Cynical
Weak
Lazy
Mendacious

"Strategic" is probably the last word I might think of in that connection.

MadisonMan said...

Bush addressed the nation and convinced Congress to go to war with him, along with a coalition of the willing. He articulated his reasons well enough to, literally, convince his harshest critics at the time (Democrats) and the world. It is revisionist history at best to say that he was unable to articulate his position.

Articulated. Right. Well, I disagree. His main argument was WMD, then it shifted over time.

But this discussion is about Obama, and his failures. I regret mentioning the parallel to Bush. I will stay on topic.

Tarrou said...

Watching Obama attempt to match wits with Putin is the keystone cops of our generation. Putin made his bones in the cold-war KGB, Obama has never had an actual job doing anything. Putin had more foreign policy experience in 1990 than Obama does today. It's not that Obama is playing checkers while Putin plays chess. It's that Putin is playing chess while Obama visits the school nurse, having eaten all the paste he could lay his hands on. What a tard.

Chuck said...

Madison Man;

The Bush Administration made the case for the authorization of military force in Iraq on the merely presumed existence of WMD.

By contrast, the Obama Administration hasn't been able to muster the competence to make the case for military force even in the event of an actual genocidal use of chemical weapons.

(Personally, I never liked the Bush Administration reliance on WMD; the fact that Iraqi ground forces were targeting and shooting at U.S. planes patrolling a UN-mandated safe zone remaining from the first Gulf War made me think we had every right to invade them and take out the Iraqi military, but that's just me.)

tim in vermont said...

" His main argument was WMD, then it shifted over time."

That was a successful but not really true propaganda point the Left made at the time to avoid dealing with the kind of uncomfortable facts about the motivations for war that Obama now is dealing with.

Obama sounds almost exactly like Bush in his justifications.

jeff said...

"I think it will have to do with the way we wanted to believe that the old parental "use words" admonition was the best advice and we conned ourselves into seeing him as the embodiment of that fantasy, and he tried to be our dream." "we" and "our" are the wrong words here.

Tarrou said...

@ Chuck,

If you look at the Iraq resolution that authorized the invasion, you'll see that suspected WMDs were only one of a dozen or so reasons stated, most of which were sufficient cassus belli on their own. The firing on US warplanes was one reason, as was non-compliance with the 1991 treaty that ended the first Gulf War. Harboring international terrorists under their diplomatic immunity, paying bounties to the families of suicide bombers, and attacking the Kurds with chemical weapons were all in the list. The WMDs didn't pan out completely, so that was what the media said was the only reason we went. In reality, we could have invaded with no problem even without the faulty intelligence.

cubanbob said...

It's time for Obama and Joe Plugs to do the honorable thing and resign. Nixon had far more credibility and competence in foreign affairs the day he resigned than these two jokers.

Michael said...

It is a conundrum alright. I would like to support the president but I believe his ambition in this adventure is to get it over with, whatever "it" is. If he wants to get the public behind him he should simply lay out the case for killing the president of Syria. Others might get killed in the bargain, but the goal should be to eliminate the man personally responsible for gassing his own people. No big war. No "boots on the ground" just a declaration of the single person we wish to harm, kill, eliminate. It would, I should think, concentrate the mind of Assad.

grackle said...

Being unable to articulate the reasons for entering a war was one of my biggest beefs with Bush.

As another comment has pointed out, plenty of "articulation" was put forth by Bush and anyone of import in his administration. Bush addressed the UN. Congress debated the issue and voted "yes" for the deposing of Saddam.

But when the Democrats realized later that a popular war successfully commanded by a Republican President did not bode well for the Democrats in the next Presidential election the Democrats gave the MSM different talking points. "Quagmire," "cowboy," Bushitler," were some of the new words in the new narrative – "Bush lied" – we(Democrats in Congress) were tricked," etc. If you watched and read the MSM it's all you saw.

During that time ANYTHING Bush said was doctored, taken out of context or wildly misinterpreted. This to the point that Bush began using very simple and unequivocal language so that it would be more difficult for the MSM to filter and modify what he actually said. Subsequently Bush was roundly criticized for being "inarticulate."

Later, after the surge it was fun to watch the MSM tie themselves into knots trying to explain why the dumb cowboy was able to win the war. Now the MSM is again facing extreme cognitive dissonance with Obama and the "Red Line" impasse Obama has gotten himself into.

So much fun watching MSNBC now, not so much of a chore as usual. Likewise CNN and the other Obama promoters. Good times.

Matthew Sablan said...

Honestly, the problem is Bush's big speech focused on the most recent Iraq problem: WMDs. Not only that, but people heard that and thought nuclear, not the minor (though still illegal) gasses we did find.

If he'd gone out and listed off dates and times of American planes that had been shot at, he probably would've never had to mention WMDs. Alas, he focused on something that could turn out to be wrong, instead of something most people get: "If they shoot at you, you may want to consider shooting back."

Tom said...

In a way, I'm glad Obama beat McCain. I supported McCain and now I really regret it. I also would have regretted supporting Obama. The good thing is that this situation has allowed a small group of Republicans and Democrats to break through on the small l libertarian front. I don't think the neo-libertarians will become the majority -- libertarianism takes a leap of faith in people and markets that some people simply can't make or even understand. But, hopefully, libertarians from both parties become more and more of an influence.

Specifically concerning Syria, I'm afraid that most American's, in addition to being war weary, simply don't trust the president. Trust is comprised of two things demonstrated over time: character and competence. I don't think Obama is demonstrating both well and, without trust, I don't think we should let him have the bombs.

I commend him for going to Congress. I wish it was for Constitutional reasons and not political. But judging from the nearly instant email responses I received from my two Senators and Congressman, I'd say that Congress is hearing the American people. I don't know if they'll listen, but it's a start.

Cedarford said...

Tarrou - "If you look at the Iraq resolution that authorized the invasion, you'll see that suspected WMDs were only one of a dozen or so reasons stated, most of which were sufficient cassus belli on their own."

===================
True, but the WMD existence or non-eistence argument the Right and Left bickered over for years obscured the larger lie that made the public fed up with Iraq after 2004. That lie was that we would go in, kick ass, take the bad guys down and walk away with a happy Iraq that had seen crippling sanctions end and a fairer governance in place.

That lie was due to Neocons that hijacked the goals and exit strategy of the War, with Bush Teams full connivance...into an open ended "Nation-building" experience that cost us 2 trillion, cost us 40,000 casualties, cost us enormous goodwill, and cost the Republicans a decade or more in the wilderness. (From Republicans becoming the pro-war Party, from them losing trust with the public as wise stewards of the economy and oversight over capitalistic abuses by Wall Street and the banks.)

The debacle of the Neocons vision is why the American public is so leery about being promised a limited war with no occupation by US troops and a fast, simple exit. They just don't believe DC.

All they did was add Obama, the Democrats, the Samatha Powers do-gooder brigade of powerful DC Elites - as people they trust no more than Bush, the neocons, and most Republicans.

It would help Republican prospects if that war thirsty idiot McCain would just shut up or drop dead. We dodged a real bullet in 2008 when we wisely didn't elect him.

Cedarford said...

cubanbob said...
It's time for Obama and Joe Plugs to do the honorable thing and resign. Nixon had far more credibility and competence in foreign affairs the day he resigned than these two jokers.

---------------
1. After the bunglings of Carter, Dubya, and Obama, it is no surprise Nixon is seen as a consequential President that did more good than harm.

2. After decades, on learning that the liberal and progressive Jewish media had covered up far worse things than Nixon did done - done at the behest of FDR, JFK, LBJ - plus the less criminal but deeper ethically immoral sleaze of the Clintonistas....Nixon doesn't look as bad to younger people, even to the older Boomers.

3. When the full details of the Obama sleaze, disregard for laws, cronyism, and lies are finally known...I believe the AA President will be below Carter, and well below Dubya as a bad President just on competency and results grounds. Then you add that while those two at least had ethical compasses.. Obama and his people also appear to be down in the mire of sleaze on Harding or Grant Administration levels..

Hagar said...

Can anyone understand the political strategy in going abroad and pleading for international cooperation in "punishing" Syria, when the news out of Washington sounds more and more like his own Congress is going to baulk?

John Lynch said...

I wonder why no one is bringing up all the small chemical attacks that started happening months ago. The President ignored them. It was obvious that Assad was seeing what he could get away with.

There were so many warning signs that Syria was going to be a problem, but it seems that the White House was taken by surprise by the big chemical attack on the 21st of last month.

Why was there no plan about what to do if this happened? Why no prior consultations with Congress? Why didn't the President think about this before?

It worries me because everything seems like a surprise to the President and his advisers. What if something really big happens that requires quick decisions, like an attack on South Korea or Taiwan? Are they going to sit there and agonize while tanks roll over our allies?

Howard said...

The proximity to 911 and the fact that the Afghan war involved only minor "get some" made Iraq an easier sell with little questioning back in late 02 and early 03. I admit to being an irrational bloodthirsty revenge seeking tool of the nero-cons.

Almost Ali said...

Obama is now a rogue president, an outcast, and the congress would be wise to draw up the necessary articles of impeachment. Because it's simply become too dangerous to sit this guy out.

cubanbob said...

Just saw on Drudge that the Ayatollahs in Iran threatened Americans in general worldwide and threaten Obama's daughters in specific if the US were to attack Syria. Just for that alone I say we should forget Syria for the moment and nuke Iran. As much as I dislike Obama those statements are sufficient reason to wipe out the Khomeini's. Then afterwards Obama and Joe Plugs should resign.

damikesc said...

John Lynch, I'd like some evidence that these larger gas attacks were actually done by Assad. John Kerry's solemn word means virtually nothing.

jr565 said...

If the issue is serious enough where you would draw a red line, then its serious enough to bypass congress over it.
If you decide against action, then maye it wasn't that important to begin with.
And so shouldn't have bothered drawing the red line in the first place.
Textbook example of a leader that doesn't know how to lead.

And note, he went into Libya absent and congressional authority and they didn't even use chemical weapons.

jr565 said...

Howard wrote:
The proximity to 911 and the fact that the Afghan war involved only minor "get some" made Iraq an easier sell with little questioning back in late 02 and early 03. I admit to being an irrational bloodthirsty revenge seeking tool of the nero-cons.

actually you were rational then and have since succumbed to weak minded anti war puffery. (My assumption based on your words about how The Iraq war was bloodthirsty and how you were a tool of the neo cons)
It was in our interest to take out Sadaam Hussein regardless of what Bill Kristol said. In fact it was the US's stated policy since 1998, and as you know Bush wasnt the president in 1998. It didnt require any revenge on our part, it was in fact necessary by almost all measures, and as bad as the result was, not doing it would have been worse.

I think well find not dealing with Syria will be one of those same policies that end up biting us on the ass.
Russia and Syria will thank us for our lack of action though.

jr565 said...

John Lynch wrote:
I wonder why no one is bringing up all the small chemical attacks that started happening months ago. The President ignored them. It was obvious that Assad was seeing what he could get away with.

There were so many warning signs that Syria was going to be a problem, but it seems that the White House was taken by surprise by the big chemical attack on the 21st of last month.

Equally surprising is why hawks are now saying that Syria getting away with this is not our problem. Obama should have known, but then so should congress. If the issue is that its a problem that Syria is trying to get away with as much as he can, then that's our problem as much as the presidents.
Why are the presidents enemies on the right pretending ht its not a problem?
Is letting Syria get away with as much as it can in our national interest considering Syria is a proxy for Iran and considering Russia is arming Syria and threatening us if we try to deal with the regime?
Whether the response offered by Obama is effective or not, republicans can't argue that neutrality on this is in our interest.

jr565 said...

Grackle wrote:
"But when the Democrats realized later that a popular war successfully commanded by a Republican President did not bode well for the Democrats in the next Presidential election the Democrats gave the MSM different talking points. "Quagmire," "cowboy," Bushitler," were some of the new words in the new narrative – "Bush lied" – we(Democrats in Congress) were tricked," etc. If you watched and read the MSM it's all you saw."

True and sad. But I'm starting to see the republicans go in the same direction now when it comes to Syria. They are articulating the medias position because they think its popular and will serve them well at the next election. Only they sound a lot like Dennis Kucinich with their arguments.

grackle said...

That lie was that we would go in, kick ass, take the bad guys down and walk away with a happy Iraq that had seen crippling sanctions end and a fairer governance in place.

But aside from the "happy" part – I'm old school and don't think it's necessary for conquered folks to be "happy" about anything – that "lie" was exactly what happened. Saddam deposed, sanctions ended, elected government instituted.

Obama's elections said goodbye to all that.

They just don't believe DC.

Isn't it Obama himself that the American public doesn't trust? After all, he's proven to friend and foe alike that his word is worthless.

" … republicans can't argue that neutrality on this is in our interest.

What's NOT "in our interest" is "firing a shot across the bow" because Obama rather stupidly got off-prompter with his "red line" remark. It's just too frivolous a reason to make war.

I might feel differently if Obama had not announced immediately that regime change and momentum change was off the table. Yeah, he says something different now but there's that trust gap to consider.

Almost Ali said...

cubanbob said...
Just saw on Drudge that the Ayatollahs in Iran threatened Americans in general worldwide and threaten Obama's daughters in specific...

Still not enough provocation to overcome the presidential punk factor. In other words, we have to be mindful, even respectful, when war-mongering counter-threats are hurled at the White House as a reaction to war-mongering threats made by the president. For it is not the Iranians or Russians or Syrians who are responsible for Obama, but the American voter.

Broomhandle5000 said...

"Russia is arming Syria and threatening us..."

Since we accrue no benefit and incur no greater security risk regardless of which side wins the Syrian Civil War, this is an excellent reason to stay the hell out of it. Clearly, it means more to Putin than it does to Obama. The Syria thing reminds me a bit of The Spanish Civil War. Fascists and Communists are tearing each other apart? Can we arm both sides?

mtrobertsattorney said...

I've noticed over the last few days this fellow is not only acting strange, he's beginning to look strange. I wonder if, as the British say, "he's about to go around the bend."

colleen cafferty said...

Errr, I have no idea what you are talking about with this 'use words' shared delusion/dream stuff.

I'd say that if we want "peace" to work, we will have to let go our "interests in the region" and until that time, it ain't gonna work no matter how pretty we make it sound.

The attempt to overlook xenophobic differences - i.e. Hezbollah and Al Quaida are primarily at fault for not going along with this nice Norwegian/Obama/Parental "use words" mantra and we therefore cannot help ourselves- is completely secondary to our need to get involved and have it go our way in the greater region.




SGT Ted said...

Actually, seeing as how its Assad's Baath Party, modeled after the German Nazi Party, bombing and shooting Al Quaeda, and visa versa, one could easily vote no with a good conscience.

Its like when Iran and Iraq were killing each other; no big loss to humanity.

wildswan said...

Washington lies to us and is incompetent. That's why we shouldn't go into Syria.

Jim Howard said...

In the spirit of cruel neutrality, I fixed one of your paragraphs:

When I look back at Barack Obama, what will I say? I think it will have to do with the way I wanted to believe that the old parental "use words" admonition was the best advice and I conned myself into seeing him as the embodiment of my fantasy, and he tried to be my dream.


With respect Professor, everything that has gone wrong was predicted by many, from Romney down to the most humble commenter here.