Well, it’s happened. President Obama is lurching around trying to convince us he has a plan to do something to/with/about Syria, and even those partisans disposed to give the president many benefits of the doubt (e.g. former president Jimmy Carter) don’t get what he’s doing or why. It’s his Harriet Miers moment, except a much, much bigger deal.
It’s particularly remarkable because the general consensus a few weeks back was that there were no good options on Syria, but we would probably launch missiles because it was something, and generally presidents who want to attack other countries get to do it. This, in case you were wondering, is how we are supposed to react to a president proposing attacks: immediately become his backup singers and dancers no matter how silly or awful it gets.
But now it looks like we probably won’t be launching missiles, at least not the same way, and the general consensus is that all of Obama’s options were bad, but they didn’t have to be THIS bad. The Post’s editorial today holds out hope that this is a big mess that has a chance to end well, meaning an international coalition will take away Assad’s weapons, maybe. If we get a plan in the meantime.
For some commenters, this isn’t a complicated issue, nor is it even really about Syria. It’s about how Obama is really bad, as these commenters have been telling you for YEARS now, and finally everyone else agrees.
Well, regressives, still support your hero? “Amateur Hour in the White House” – Maureen Dowd, New York Times. Let this be a ‘teachable moment’ — ex college professors and community organizers make poor presidents. FORWARD!!! to where, no one has a clue. Sigh.
The Obama Administration “retreated” and left a huge vacuum in the Middle East. What a legacy.
And, of course, there are still arguers that this is really all great:
In fact the Administration’s evolving position on Syria reflects the confused and shifting conditions in that country and the intense resistance to military action that has existed all along domestically. For those who deride the President’s performance I’d ask exactly what you’d do differently.
I may be a dreamer, but what a great opportunity. As it’s taught in Buddhism, confusion is the first step to Enlightenment.
So, that leaves everyone else. The muddle in the middle — made up, PostScript supposes, of people who can’t bring themselves to back Obama here — are, like the editorial, cautiously optimistic that something good might yet happen.
Getting Obama to back down on his show of force clearly helps Assad and Russia. It is also what the American people have wanted him to do. Back down. The President got himself into this mess with his statements and now has found a way out. Clearly this administration is adrift as far as a policy is concerned but in the end everyone, except the Syrian people being killed by Assad even today, are winners. The American people get the Syrian strike they did not want called off, Congress does not have to cast a painful vote, Assad gets to stay in power, Russia and Iran maintain a valuable ally, and Obama gets to claim that he engineered the whole mess.
It’s hard to imagine anybody handling it any better or worse than Obama has. Has not been pretty but nobody here, least of all the irrational Obama haters, have offered or can offer any strategy that would have guaranteed a better outcome. Either for Syria or for the USA or the presidency.
maryann71 even sees hope for overcoming paralyzing partisanship:
With the overwhelming majority of both Democrats and Republicans speaking out against our involvement in Syria, I am happy to see that we can be united when an issue becomes so crystal clear. Our strong resolve not to involve ourselves in yet another conflict abroad helps us to define ourselves as UNITED American citizens which is of far greater import than any party affiliation.
DCsandiego says, okay, then let’s make the possible good ending happen:
Pretty good analysis on the Syrian mess. Now, perhaps the WaPo could prod the Obama Administration into working effectively to harness an international response to the military option so we aren’t (essentially) standing alone again. And if the Arab neighbors can’t fight, they can sure shoulder the financial costs. Let’s see John Kerry beat that “coalition” drum for a while.
And no_account_plebian might be talking about the Middle East, Russia, U.S. politics or this comment page when he or she says:
Tribal is as tribal does. Mama always used to say.
PostScript isn’t totally sure what that means, but she’s pretty sure it’s right.