This explains a lot. Or maybe it doesn’t. According to Jay Carney, decisiveness is old and busted, and the new hotness is vacillation. For now.
President Barack Obama’s Syria strategy may not have been particularly decisive, but that’s not a bad thing, according to the White House.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defended his boss Thursday after a blistering few weeks of criticism in Congress and elsewhere over his handling of the Syria crisis.
Carney said the American people “appreciate a president who doesn’t celebrate decisiveness for decisiveness’ sake.” He also said Americans like that Obama is open to “new information” and adjusts his course accordingly.
It’s always good to see an American administration take a tough stand for indecision. However, while this latest spin beats the Pee Wee Herman Defense (“I meant to do that!”), it hardly provides any significant improvement, and ignores the context of the last few weeks.
When an American President demands support for military action in a fresh theater, the underwritten assumption is that all other options have been exhausted. Ordering military strikes puts American lives at risk, no matter what kind of blather John Kerry spews in Congress, especially when we are talking about military strikes on a country with well-established ties to large terrorist networks, as Assad has with Hezbollah. Diplomacy is, after all, the first option that is supposed to be taken, not the last, and Obama had a full year to the day to work out diplomatic solutions to the chemical-weapons issues with Syria and Russia, and to work with Congress on a unified-front policy.
Instead, Obama demanded military strikes first, and insisted that no other options existed. He had his allies, including Hillary Clinton, go out and make the same argument to Capitol Hill and the nation — and then pirouetted back into diplomacy, even while most of them were still arguing that diplomacy had been exhausted. He left his friends twisting in the wind, along with his credibility.
Nate Beeler gets it right in today’s Columbus Dispatch: