Of course, if Obama was a Chess Master who sees ten moves ahead, this would all be an elaborate rope-a-dope. Like Michael Corleone, he would wait for his enemies to show themselves and reveal their motives. China is suddenly testing our resolve in the Pacific? “Excellent,” Obama says behind tented fingers. The Russians are calling our bluff? “Ahhh . . . the game is afoot.” Egypt and the U.A.E. are writing us off as a paper tiger? “Just as I expected,” quoth the Chess Master to his briefer. The Germans can’t be counted on to stay loyal? “Of course. Of course.” The Poles have made it clear they consider the U.S. an unreliable, even dangerous ally? “I am disappointed I was so right about them all along.” The Iranians pour Hezbollah into Syria? “Rouhani’s a pimp. He never could have outfought Ahmadinejad. But I didn’t know until this day that it was Khamenei all along.”
The Chess Master was testing our friends and exposing our real foes. Like the sea snake that guy in Gladiator described, Obama let his prey nip and bite at him and now, in a shockingly mixed metaphor, the Venus fly trap snaps shut for the Labor Day Massacre.
The reality, alas, is that Obama is — and has always been — out of his depth on the international stage. Given the prestige of the presidency and the incredible institutional forces behind the office, particularly when a liberal is elected, it takes time to burn through all of the political capital that comes with the job. But Obama has been throwing that political capital on an Oval Office bonfire like so much kindling on a clean and safe Anchorage night. In yet another metaphor that threatens to burn out the dilithium crystals, the credibility inferno is reaching China Syndrome proportions (“You should have said ‘literally’ a lot! Literally means ‘pay attention to how smart my metaphors are.’ Wheeeeee!” — Joe Biden). For a depressing but brilliant analysis of this meltdown, see Bret Stephens’s piece in the new Commentary coincidentally titled “The Meltdown.”