"To bomb or not to bomb, that is the question."
- President Barack Obama, Address on Syria, September 10, 2013
Over the past two weeks, we've watched Barack Obama and John Kerry turn US foreign policy into a Laurel and Hardy routine. Fortunately for America, the West Wing had the good sense to keep Obama's "bumbling" (I'm being kind) Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, away from center stage in order to prevent this farce from becoming a Three Stooges episode. Joe Biden, who fancies himself a presidential candidate in 2016, was smart enough to keep his mouth shut so that this would not become a Marx Brothers revival.
Yesterday, Obama bombed, and the critics are unanimous in labeling Obama's speech regarding Assad's use of sarin gas against civilians a flop. But heck, Obama is only a community organizer trying to play the role of Commander in Chief. Cut the man some slack!
In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Who Do You Trust?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/11/opinion/dowd-who-do-you-trust.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd doesn't cut Obama any slack at all. Dowd writes:
"Just as Obama and Kerry — with assists from Hillary and some senators — were huffing and puffing that it was their military threat that led to the breakthrough, Putin moved to neuter them, saying they’d have to drop their military threat before any deal could proceed. The administration’s saber-rattling felt more like knees rattling. Oh, for the good old days when Obama was leading from behind. Now these guys are leading by slip-of-the-tongue.
Amateur hour started when Obama dithered on Syria and failed to explain the stakes there. It escalated last August with a slip by the methodical wordsmith about 'a red line for us' — which the president and Kerry later tried to blur as the world’s red line, except the world was averting its eyes.
. . . .
The bumbling approach climaxed with two off-the-cuff remarks by Kerry, hitting a rough patch in the role of a lifetime, during a London press conference Monday; he offered to forgo an attack if Assad turned over 'every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community' and promised, if they did strike, that it would be an 'unbelievably small' effort.
. . . .
Even as Democrats tiptoed away from the red line, eager to kick the can of Sarin down the road, their own harsh rhetoric haunted them. Kerry compared Assad to Hitler last week, and Harry Reid evoked 'Nazi death camps' on the Senate floor Monday."
But you should never base your theater going choices on the opinion of only one reviewer. Let's have a look at what the Washington Post's middle-of-the-road Dana Milbank had to say in an opinion piece entitled "Obama’s Syria muddle" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-kerrys-not-so-clear-sailing-on-syria/2013/09/10/142fe5da-1a52-11e3-a628-7e6dde8f889d_story.html?hpid=z3):
"At 9 p.m. Tuesday, President Obama, in his address to the nation, said that he had 'asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force.'
This contradicted what his secretary of state, John Kerry, had said in testimony to Congress just 11 hours earlier. 'We’re not asking Congress not to vote,' Kerry told the House Armed Services Committee. 'I’m not asking [for] delay,' he added later.
Kerry can be forgiven for being at odds with the president. The president, in the space of his 16-minute address, was often at odds with himself. He spent the first 12 minutes arguing for the merits of striking Syria — and then delivered the news that he was putting military action on hold."
All of which is not to say that the performance by Obama and Kerry did not elicit laughter. As reported by CBS (http://washington.cbslocal.com/2013/09/10/syrian-foreign-minister-accepting-russias-proposal-pulls-the-rug-from-under-the-feet-of-american-aggression/):
"'Yesterday we held a round of very fruitful negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and he put forward an initiative regarding chemical weapons. Already in the evening we accepted Russia’s initiative,' Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said, according to Russia Today, adding that this move is to 'pull the rug from under the feet of American aggression.'"
Actually, Walid al-Muallem botched his line. He was meant to say that this move is intended to "pull the wool over the eyes of Washington," but accidents in the theater of the absurd do happen.
Bottom line: It's hard to imagine that this inept comedy routine is going to run for another three and a half years until a new comedian replaces Obama in the Oval Office.
This just in: Anthony Weiner has announced that he will be seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2016! President Weiner? That should keep them rolling in the aisles of Congress . . .