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Our "Second Lincoln" and The Syria Mess

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Just how bad of a mess is President Obama in over Syria? So bad that the New York Times is visibly pained by the messy and humiliating situation the Democratic Reagan, the Second Coming of Lincoln and the New FDR finds himself in this week. A sampling of today’s headlines: “A Rare Public View of Obama’s Pivots on Policy in Syria Confrontation“, “As Obama Pauses Action, Putin Takes Center Stage“, “U.S. Backing of Russian Plan Leaves a Wary Israel Focusing on Self-Reliance“.

The president’s boosters are trying to put a brave face on the situation. From the Times:

“All the critics would like this to be easily choreographed, a straight line and end the way they’d all individually like it to end,” said David Plouffe, the president’s former senior adviser. “That’s not the way the world works for sure, especially in a situation like this. I think it speaks to his strength, which is that he’s willing to take in new information.” […]

“President Obama was elected in part because when Washington followed the conventional wisdom into Iraq, he took a different approach,” said Dan Pfeiffer, his senior adviser. “The American people appreciate the fact that he takes a thoughtful approach to these most serious of decisions.”

Missing from the chorus of strained, faint praise from his defenders: references to the vaunted oratorical powers of the Great Persuader. Somehow, the man the MSM once hailed as the greatest American speechmaker since Abraham Lincoln sounded oddly unconvincing on the subject of his Syria policy.

The gap between national security reporters reduced to head scratching incredulity as America’s Middle East policy unravels in a spectacular public flameout and the administration shills scrambling to cover the emperor’s nakedness has opened into a yawning chasm.

What the president’s supporters are hoping for at this point is the same thing we all want—for the good foreign policy fairy to save President Obama (and the country) from the ugly and humiliating trap of a Syria policy he so carefully designed for himself. Luck matters, and America’s structural position in world affairs is so strong that we often manage to extricate ourselves from nasty scrapes with far fewer bruises than our enemies and rivals would like to inflict.

But even the administration’s most ardent supporters at this point must know in their heart of hearts that President Obama’s chances of being ranked as one of our great foreign policy presidents are not very high—and they are melting faster than a Himalayan glacier in an IPCC report. Like Blanche DuBois in a “Streetcar Named Desire”, President Obama has worked himself into a position in which he must depend on the kindness of strangers like Vladimir Putin. It didn’t work out very well for her; let’s hope that President Obama (and the country he leads) can somehow escape the full price of our Syria clusterfarce.

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  • bpuharic

    Perhaps we should invade and declare “Mission Accomplished” like the right wing has been doing for the last decade, to the tune of trillions of BORROWED dollars and thousands of US dead.

    WRM seems to think the middle east is a stable environment, filled with religiously pluralistic democrats and that Obama has single handedly screwed up our relations

    He seems to have missed

    revolutions, civil wars, military coups, terror attacks, the invasion of Iraq, etc etc. etc that make this a dynamic situation which is OUT of control AND BEYOND our control

    It’s clear both that WRM loathes Obama and has no clue as to what’s going on. Having recently read WRM’s excellent book “Special Providence”, and being a scientist rather than a foreign relations expert, I expect more of an analysis than handwringing and a complete disregard for the effects of the collapse of right wing foreign policy in the middle east

    It’s clear my expectations were set too high.

    • Lyle7

      Obama has been in charge for half of the decade you are talking about.

      • Fred

        Never argue with drunks, lunatics, children, or bpuharic. Just read him and laugh.

        • bpuharic

          As cogent and as analytical a response as the right is capable of

          I applaud you sir. You’re the best the right wing has

        • Pete


          Don’t feed the troll.

    • gvanderleun

      ” declare “Mission Accomplished” ” If yøu are really so ignorant as to keep flogging that false meme there is no hope for you. Drown in thy drool cup, fool.

      • bpuharic

        You guys keep ignoring the fact your failures have killed THOUSANDS while screaming about Obama’s fecklessness.

        Forgive me if I’m not convinced. “Mission Accomplished” is a synecdoche to remind you of why conservatives should never comment on foreign policy

  • ljgude

    Sending an inexperienced postcolonial college professor with ideas learned at the feet of Edward Said into the real world with this result is not surprising. Compare a president from the 40s very much in touch with reality who was fond of quoting an old Orthodox proverb to explain his alliance with Stalin. It is permissible, my children, to take the hand of the Devil himself until you have safely crossed the bridge.” Until his recent meeting in Leningrad, oops St Petersburg, he may not have recognized the very discomforting experience of a half hour private audience with Beelzebub. Maybe he should try reading that famous old Italian poem – you know the one. It starts out: “In the middle of life I found myself in a dark wood…..

    • bpuharic

      And sending a conservative, failed oilman alcoholic to the White House like the GOP did got us 2 trillion dollars in the hole, along with 4400 US dead. That kind of success we can do without.

      When you guys have a success, you be sure and let me know. Until then, at least we can say Obama’s failures don’t kill thousands of Americans or blow holes in our deficits.

      • gvanderleun

        “2 trillion dollars in the hole, along with 4400 US dead. ” Piker. A real piker compared to what your little boys have been able to tee up in the last week.

        • bpuharic

          Number of US dead in the last week?


          Amount of money spent on war?


          I see your point.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Wow! Twice in two days I find myself in total agreement with Via Meadia, the other time was the article on Venezuela yesterday. I wonder if Mr. Mead has had an epiphany? In fact I am noticing a major shift in the MSM, as those that have been carrying Obama’s water, realize that he is unworthy of their worship. The bigger they are the harder they fall, and Obama is going down hard.
    Have you noticed how many of the old sayings are showing up? The Emperor has no clothes, clay feet, etc… I think this is an indication of a nexus moment in history, where things turn at great speed.

    • bpuharic

      By now, of course, had Romney won, US troops would be marching on Damascus, as they did on Baghdad and Kabul, and the right would be thundering that we’re going to do nation building on the cheap

      IOW we’d repeat our resounding success in Iraq

      Nice job, guys

  • Michael Rodgers

    Why, I remember like it was yesterday. On a recent Sunday, in a neighbors house, somewhere in Venice, I was told that he was gonna spread happiness and freedom; that Obama was gonna change it. He was going to lead us. Obama was gonna change the world.

    ha ha ha ha ha

  • Stupor Freaky

    President Obama as Blanche DuBois–Ouch! Putin features as the obvious Stanley, lustily having his way with hapless Blanche before her final committal (So how long, exactly, is this rape going to last?)

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