President Obama spoke to the nation last night about the Syrian crisis. It wasn’t the speech that was anticipated earlier in the week. Russia threw him a lifeline by saying Syria is open to the idea of turning over its chemical weapons to the UN. This will now lead us . . . where? Promises, delays, more promises, more delays, weapons inspections that go nowhere, etc., etc., etc. Haven’t we seen all this before?
So after more than a week of sabre-rattling, our leader says he doesn’t want Congress to vote on whether to strike Syria. Of course, it was increasingly clear, even to the most obtuse of administrations, that Congress was not going to go along with his wishes. Even the Democrat-controlled Senate was iffy for him. The whole enterprise of trying to get Americans on board with his haphazard, make-it-up-as-you-go policy was almost comical:
The speech last night was supposed to set a clear direction and make everyone feel good. Did it?
How did some commentators view the effort? I have some rather stark reactions to relay. Brit Hume, an experienced and balanced journalist who actually supported the call for a military strike, called it “a speech in search of a purpose.” Charles Krauthammer, who is so often insightful in his analyses, said the address was “one of the most odd presidential speeches ever delivered.” Stephen Hayes, of the Weekly Standard, described it as “a bizarre, meandering, unpersuasive speech. In that sense, a perfect distillation of Obama policy on Syria.”
In other words, the speech was the fitting end of a weird week of accidental, unintentional policy shifts and misstatements. One of the strangest was Secretary of State Kerry’s assurance that any strike would be unbelievably small. Really? Then why do it at all?
What would any such strike have accomplished? We’re told it would have made it harder for Assad to use chemical weapons in the future. How do we know that for sure? And how does a statement like Kerry’s mesh with the bold image Obama is trying to project?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad action has been delayed. I didn’t favor getting involved militarily in the first place. I have a feeling that, deep down, Obama is relieved as well; he painted himself in a corner with all that “red line” talk that he never imagined he’d have to fulfill. What a leadership team!
The president’s speech took center stage at a time when our focus should instead be on the commemoration of the evil attack of September 11, 2001. I would also add the attack of September 11, 2012, in Benghazi. Yet what do we hear from the administration on those? Perhaps there will be a perfunctory mention of 2001. Nothing at all will be said about 2012, a day this administration continues to stonewall.
This nation needs real leadership, but these are the people we have chosen to place in power. We should be ashamed.