Watching the Sunday morning political talk shows is fun, if you’re the type of guy who gets a kick out of pundits defending the indefensible.
Here’s Chuck Todd on President Obama’s infamous “red line” on Syria:
“I can tell you there is regret about the red line comment. You don’t draw — I mean, they meant it. They do mean it on the chemical weapons. But saying it creates this political conversation. They didn’t want to go public last week that they had this early evidence yet. … They weren’t ready. … There is no good answer.”
So President Obama means what he says, except that he doesn’t. He’s had months and months to figure out what to do if that “red line” was crossed, and he’s still “not ready” to deal with the reality that has unfolded on the ground. Got it.
Perhaps the “red line” is simply one of many lines that need to be crossed. Yes, Obama means what he says, but we haven’t gone through ROY G. BIV yet. Once the violet line is crossed, then Assad is in trouble.
The Associated Press reports:
Obama, in his first comments about the new intelligence disclosure, said Friday, “For the Syrian government to utilize chemical weapons on its people crosses a line that will change my calculus and how the United States approaches these issues.” He has issued similar warnings for months, saying the use of chemical weapons or transfer of the stockpiles to terrorists would cross a “red line” and carry “enormous consequences.”
Seeking to show resolve, Obama added Friday that “I’ve meant what I said.”
So if you execute your own people using Russian Hind attack helicopters, no biggie. If you do the same exact thing using chemical weapons, “enormous consequences” will follow. Or not. We’re not sure because we’re busy conducting focus groups to see what the American people would be okay with.
This is where the professorial president breaks down. In the real world, people have to take a stand somewhere. They have to make decisions and live with the consequences. You don’t draw “red lines” if you have no idea what to do when that red line is crossed.
In this instance, one could make the case that the “correct” form of action will be to let the “bad guys” (i.e., Assad) and the “really bad guys” (i.e., the al Qaeda-type rebels controlling large swathes of the country) kill each other and deal with the consequences that follow. The decision to not get involved at all is one Americans can agree or disagree with, but at least it’s taking a firm stance on the issue.
The Obama M.O. has always been to take all sides of all issues, and then stress whatever one is politically expedient on any given day. His buddies in the media won’t call him on it, and when they do (e.g., Chuck Todd), it’s in a weird way that gives him a “pass” (Hey, there is “no good answer.” Cut the guy some slack.)
At the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, President Obama said the job was “humbling.” Indeed. That’s because the world is a lot messier than you presented it when you ran in 2008, Mr. Obama. George Bush is suddenly a “good man” when you’re getting the intelligence briefings, and the threats that must be defused on a daily basis are dizzying.
Here’s the lesson of the day: Don’t lay down red lines if you don’t mean it, because other countries will learn dangerous lessons in the process. The world is already an unsafe place, and it gets more so when the President of the United States says “red line” when he really means “red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet lines.”