As I wrote last night, I think President Obama made a convincing case for action in Libya. That was my initial thought after listening to his speech from the National Defense University. But as I indulged my morning ritual of oatmeal, coffee and "Morning Joe," my next round of thoughts were perfectly and pugnaciously articulated by an unlikely source: ad man Donny Deutsch.
While the rest of the ensemble remained unclear about what Obama said, Deutsch nailed what the president was telling the nation. "I actually think he made a practical decision," Deutsch said. "Imperfect, but a practical decision." Practical because the U.S. can no longer afford unilateral and regime-change exercises.
Pat Buchanan initially opposed action in Libya, but he said that once America was in the game it needed to "end the thing" by "tak[ing] this guy out." Deutsch was quick to counter. "End it? There's no end," he said. "It's not a feasible possibility. It is not a practical economic reality for us right now."
"We are going broke." Deutsch would later say. And picking up on Obama's knock against those pushing for regime change in Libya as in Iraq, he said, "We don't have another trillion dollars to spend over the next eight years. Not an option."
But Deutsch's best contribution to the discussion was putting Obama's address in the context of the new world order in which we live in response to a query from "Morning Joe" co-anchor Willie Geist about what Obama's words mean for other Middle Eastern nations in upheaval, such as Bahrain and Syria. "I don't think there's a black and white answer," Deutsch said. "We all look for absolutes. We live in a world of grays. It is a case-by-case basis. I don't think we can put on paper and put in a nice grid when you do it and when you don't. . . ."
"[W]e have to pick and choose," said Deutsch. "You can't do it all." And no one is more painfully aware of that than the president of the United States.