Obama's #syria speech tonight will be just 15 minutes.
— mark seibel (@markseibel) September 10, 2013
You know he’s in a bad spot when a guy who enjoys the sound of his own voice as much as O does wants to keep things brief so that he can put this behind him. Also, what’s left to say? If he could go back in time and erase the “red line” comment to spare himself from all this, he would and literally everyone knows it. If he could get away with canceling tonight’s speech entirely without losing face, he’d do that too. Better to keep his mouth shut about Syria as much as possible going forward before he says something so stupid that even the Russians can’t rescue him from it.
As Ed’s noting on Twitter, the takeaway line from his Rose Garden address 10 days ago was, “After careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets.” Ten days of embarrassment later, it’s come to this:
President Barack Obama will tell the nation Tuesday night that he is pursuing a last-minute Russian proposal to remove chemical weapons from Syria, and will argue that military force may be necessary, a senior administration official told NBC News…
On Tuesday, Russia added a wrinkle of complication: President Vladimir Putin said that a proposal for Syria to hand over its weapons would not work unless the United States and its allies promise not to use force.
In his address, Obama will tell the nation that a military option must stay on the table, the senior administration official told NBC News. That appeared to be a response to Putin’s statement.
At this point, I half-expect the speech to be interrupted by a transmission of Putin from the Kremlin. Ed suggests this message as a focus for O instead:
Good point. By all accounts, Obama and his staff have done more outreach on the Hill lately to round up votes than they’ve done in ages. They failed miserably, but even so — on a night when the commander-in-chief will surrender what’s left of his credibility to Russia, reassuring Americans that our two parties can still engage in “dialogue” is a nice consolation prize.
Exit question: Is there any way O can convince conservatives to support his misadventure in Syria? Exit answer: Maybe.