Obama’s Syria address to the nation flops
September 11, 2013
It was all too obvious last night that the only reason President Obama gave his speech to the nation was that it would have been too embarrassing to cancel it. The result was inconsistent and unsatisfying at any level. (Transcript here)
Obama commandeered the nation’s airwaves to call for a “diplomatic pause” in a Congressional vote he requested to affirm a military threat to enforce a red line he doesn’t take responsibility for. The first half of his talk was intended to spark moral outrage, recalling his mind’s “images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor.” But the second half meandered off into Goldilocks territory as he promised to teach Assad a lesson that would be not too small (“The United States military doesn’t do pinpricks” — though SecState Kerry famously claimed it would be “unbelievably small”), and not too big (“I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria). Somehow or other, this man who never wore his nation’s uniform, advised by SecDef Hagel, Samantha Power and Susan Rice, will thread the needle in punishing Syria with exactly the right amount of force that won’t spark serious retaliation but will deter Assad.