Being president of the United States isn’t easy. Being Barack Obama being president is evidently tougher still. Despite then-candidate Obama’s chest pounding in 2008 when he spoke arrogantly of bringing a gun to a knife fight, he wasn’t facing a real enemy back then. His opponent was a 72-year-old war veteran who wasn’t really jonesing for a brawl, which was probably lucky for Obama, who would found himself on his back sucking air if McCain had thrown a punch.
Now that Obama is facing an actual enemy, which (nota bene) crossed the line in the sand he himself drew, his back is against the wall and he is reduced once again to whining. He didn’t want to arm the Syrian rebels. Taking action vis-à-vis Syria is bad for his poll numbers: God knows the American people are as weary of wars in the Middle East as he himself is of wars anywhere. Never mind that he was willing to take “limited kinetic action” in Libya on the grounds that the casualties of the Ghaddafi regime constituted a humanitarian crisis even though Bashar al-Assad is responsible for ten times as many civilian deaths.
With no other option, Obama grudgingly chose one from Column A three days ago and sent in small arms. But he is still getting an earful from Monday morning quarterbacks on all sides of the political spectrum and the media. Former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said the move comes too late and that he is not sure in any case what Obama’s mission is. Obama’s former adversary, John McCain, opined that sending small arms is not enough and that the U.S. needs to establish a no-fly zone.
Beset with questions and self-doubt, Obama took to the airwaves on Sunday. He chose as safe a venue as possible, appearing with Charlie Rose on PBS, but still to his chagrin found himself subject to friendly fire.
When asked about his new policy in Syria, Obama bristled. “I’m not sure you can characterize this as a new policy. This is consistent with the policy that I’ve had throughout.” When Rose asked, as Cheney had, about the goal of the mission, Obama claimed that regional stability was the first order of business:
Really, what we’re trying to do is take sides against extremists of all sorts and in favor of people who are in favor of moderation, tolerance, representative government, and over the long-term, stability and prosperity for the people of Syria.
Then Rose, doing the unthinkable, threw the president a hardball: “So you think a no-fly zone is not necessary?” This seemed to raise Obama’s hackles. His answer took the form of a high-pitched lecture.
What I’m saying is, that if you haven’t been in the Situation Room, poring through intelligence and meeting directly with our military folks and asking, what are all our options, and examining what are all the consequences, and understanding that for example, if you set up a no-fly zone, that you may not be actually solving the problem on the zone. Or if you set up a humanitarian corridor, are you in fact committed not only to stopping aircraft from going that corridor, but also missiles? And if so, does that mean that you then have to take out the armaments in Damascus and are you prepared then to bomb Damascus? And what happens if there’s civilian casualties? And have we mapped all of the chemical weapons facilities inside of Syria to make sure that we don’t drop a bomb on a chemical weapons facility that ends up then dispersing chemical weapons and killing civilians, which is exactly what we’re trying to prevent. Unless you’ve been involved in those conversations, then it’s kind of hard for you to understand that the complexity of the situation and how we have to not rush into one more war in the Middle East.
Rose might have gently pointed out to the president that it’s his job to explain the complexity to the American people — none of whom have been there — rather than grouse about it.
As for Rose, maybe he is finally beginning to regain some of his lost perspective on the reality that is Barack Obama. Far from the bottom-feeding toady he functioned as during the presidential debates, Rose once asked trenchant questions about Obama’s capabilities to serve as commander-in-chief. As Rush Limbaugh reminds us in this flashback from 2008, Rose and former MSM heavyweight Tom Brokaw both had their doubts back then:
ROSE: I don’t know what Barack Obama’s worldview is.
BROKAW: No, I don’t, either.
ROSE: I don’t know how he really sees where China is.
BROKAW: We don’t know a lot about Barack Obama and the universe of his thinking about foreign policy.
ROSE: I don’t really know. And do we know anything about the people who are advising him?
BROKAW: Yeah, it’s an interesting question.
ROSE: He is principally known through his autobiography and through very aspirational [sic] speeches.
BROKAW: Two of them! I don’t know what books he’s read.
ROSE: What do we know about the heroes of Barack Obama?
BROKAW: There’s a lot about him we don’t know.
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