With Republicans falling over themselves to hug Putin while aiding Assad in his messaging, and Putin following Republicans lead to take digs at “American exceptionalism” when Obama says it, it’s hard to know who the “bad guys” are these days.
So we get this from the New York Times: “Obama: Weak or the anti-Bush?”
Republicans et al are elevating Putin in order to tend their bitter Obama wounds; thus, because Putin had an op-ed on the NYT in which he swaggered a lot (remarkably like another “dictator”, Bush — an accusation made by constitutional lawyers), Obama is “weak”. This is the conclusion of his usual detractors, and since many Republicans are saying it, it’s also become the takeaway and the trickle down beltway auto-looping narrative of the day.
It’s as if there is no more time. It’s all done now. The weapons are turned over and Putin delivered on his promise and we have proof that even though Obama was talking to him, this was really all Putin’s idea (even though Putin hasn’t exactly proven to be such a long term thinker).
Or, reality: This is the BEGINNING of very tense negotiations that may or may not even work, and Putin did what he had to do because it turns out that President Obama is not someone to cross when it really matters. See, Obama is not the fantasy liberal pacifist the right thinks he is, nor is he the war-monger the far left thinks he is. People can’t see that Obama’s opponents are often very loud, but rarely victorious. This is not a “weak” person. That is one of the more ignorant arguments I’ve ever heard lobbed at Obama.
And of course, presidents, no matter how well intentioned, can’t control events. They can only control their reaction to events.
So Obama said Syria’s use of chemical weapons merited a military strike and he pushed for it. He also delayed the push by “bringing it to Congress” when he didn’t have to, making it clear that he was serious about the military strikes and wanted everyone to start discussing it. Eventually we got around to the atrocities – the very reason for his proposal – and that led to condemning them once they were backed up with evidence. This put more pressure on Putin and Assad both.
In the meantime, Obama has been talking to Putin for the last year and specifically at the G20 about this issue.
Suddenly Putin is on board, and Putin credits himself as do the Republicans. The media isn’t far behind. All hail the mighty Putin, President of Democracy! Oh, wait. The Navalny verdict. Oh well, this is the kind of guy Republicans, the media and even the far left can get behind. He’s a decider! He saved us all. He’s the good guy, not our own President.
Pssst: If you are so invested in hating Obama that you can’t bring yourself to even question your growing allegiance to a known dictator, you are probably not thinking very clearly.
In Republican world, unless you kick the other person in the shin out of the blue, you’re weak. Republicans go for the most obvious and least effective (foreign policy wise) display of power – the bully, the cowboy, the gun, the smirk, the Mission Accomplished banner.
So it’s not their fault that Republicans don’t recognize real power, especially when it’s used against them. It’s just a shame that our media doesn’t bother to see the big picture and can’t keep up with this President. Then again, who would want a president so average that the media left him or her in the dark.
We had a president who played for the media really well, but he was exceptionally bad at his real job. Maybe this is just like real life – the people who are always marketing themselves are often not the best at what they are marketing. And maybe the smarter leader doesn’t take a victory lap before anything has been accomplished. And maybe smarter people don’t get behind the preening id in the room, the “decider”, just because it’s comforting to pretend that things are that simple.
I’m not going to pretend Obama isn’t smarter than most people just so I can appear to be “fair”. He is, and it should be acknowledged; it doesn’t mean he’s infallible. A person of reason factors this into analysis of Obama’s decision making skills. Especially since Obama has proven in the past that he had a reason and a plan, and indeed, in his own autobiography admitted that he has a (sometimes rather cruel) penchant for being able to set others up from behind the scenes.
And now we have a dictator who was refusing to come to the U.N. table suddenly publicly pushing for Assad to turn over the chemical weapons, to much applause from the Republicans, who also can’t stop parroting Assad’s propaganda due to their Obama Opposition Disorder.
Thus, we are presented with a doofus decider preening for public acclaim and in the background, a President who just silently got what he wanted. Who’s the smarter person?
Sorry, Obama isn’t going to play Kim Kardashian for the media and make splashy “news” for them with Mission Accomplished banners. This leaves them chasing after showboater Putin for the hits, which conveniently aligns them with the GOP once again and allows them to pretend that they are brave truth tellers who stand up to presidential power, when they aren’t selling you WMD for a decider.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.