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Friday, September 6, 2013

The Fact Checker, "President Obama and the ‘Red Line’ on Syria’s Chemical Weapons": If It's Not Read From a Teleprompter, Don't Believe It

Glenn Kessler, "The Fact Checker" of The Washington Post, has just hit rock bottom.

In a blog entry entitled "President Obama and the ‘red line’ on Syria’s chemical weapons" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2013/09/06/president-obama-and-the-red-line-on-syrias-chemical-weapons/?hpid=z1&wp_login_redirect=0), Kessler purportedly examines Obama's recent declaration:

"I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line."

Kessler acknowledges that Obama previously declared in August 2012:

"We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation."

Refusing to assign Obama's blatant contradiction even a single "Pinnochio," Kessler explains:

"Obama’s formulation is very loose and informal, focused mainly on the question of movement of chemical weapons: 'a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.'"

"Focused mainly on the question of movement of chemical weapons"? How does Kessler ignore what follows in Obama's "informal" declaration (my emphasis in red)?:

" . . . a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized."

Chemical weapons were "utilized" by Assad. Sarin gas killed nearly 1,500 civilians on August 21.

Kessler continues:

"To sum up, the president made an ill-considered rhetorical statement a year ago, without consulting his aides. But the White House staff decided they could not take it back and even considered it a useful example of firm presidential leadership when they needed to inform Congress of evidence of chemical weapons use by Syria.

But the president apparently was never comfortable with his own words. So when new talking points were crafted to make this line seem less like an 'Obama red line' and more like a world-backed red line, the president bungled the language again. He made it appear as if he was denying he had called it a red line, when that was obviously not the case.

If he had used Kerry’s language, it would not have been as much of an issue: “The line I drew is the same one that the world has had for nearly 100 years.” Or something like that.

Of course, he didn’t say that. So is a bungled talking point worthy of Pinocchios? We don’t try to play gotcha here at The Fact Checker, so we are inclined to leave this question to our readers."

Or in other words, if it's not read from a teleprompter, don't believe anything the president says. Kessler would make a marvelous White House Press Secretary.

This in turn must be causing Israel great anxiety. You will recall that Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg  (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/obama-to-iran-and-israel-as-president-of-the-united-states-i-dont-bluff/253875/):

"I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff. I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say."

So, given that this statement to Goldberg was also not read from a teleprompter, are Israel and Iran to understand that Obama doesn't mean what he says?

As was stated by Obama's best talk show friend, David Letterman, on Wednesday regarding the president's disavowal of his "red line" (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/09/05/letterman_on_obamas_red_line_for_syria_the_guy_has_learned_how_to_bullshit.html):

"So, it's taken him five years, but finally the guy has learned how to bullshit."

How reassuring.

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