Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Over-Articulate Obama

For those who welcomed a thoughtful, analytical, measured President after the pietistic, never-in-doubt George W. Bush, Barack Obama's latest Big Speech is a reminder that words can cloud as well as clarify.

The President now tells us that "when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That’s what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks." But that assertion is not supported by hard facts any more than was Bush's warnings about Iraq.

No matter how carefully he explains the U.S. military involvement with no matter how much emphasis on the U.N. and NATO, Americans are left with a carefully crafted but confusing explanation of, to put it bluntly, what the hell we are doing in Libya.

"Some nations," Barack Obama tells us, "may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."

Yet less than a minute later, he adds: "But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake."

As the ground action in Libya starts to look like a civil war, where does this leave us for the long run?

After the President's speech, John Boehner has a reasonable question, "Nine days into this military intervention, Americans still have no answer to the fundamental question: What does success in Libya look like?”

For all of Barack Obama's oratorical gifts, the Big Speech this time does little to reassure the American people and leaves them confused over what we are doing in Libya and for how long and how we will react if it all gets as messy as our previous Middle East adventures of the past decade.

For all the President's fine sentiments and carefully crafted argument, he has failed to be clear and persuasive.

Footnote: If viewers were wondering why the Presidential explanation of a small war was telecast at 7:30 Eastern Time instead of the usual 8:00, the answer is to avoid conflict with "Dancing With the Stars." Then again, tap-dancing around the core issues in Libya may have been an appropriate lead-in.


Anonymous said...

57,000 troops in Germany. What does sucess look like in Germany?

33,000 troops in Japan. What does success look like there?

10,000 troops in Great Britain.

10,000 troops in Italy.

0 in Lybia.

"What the hell are we doing in Lybia?"


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_deployments

hking said...

Since I have not seen the speech, I cannot comment on it, but I don't think John Boehner has earned the right to ask such a question given what the Republicans have done between 2000 - 2008. Bush got a free ride for years. The better question is if we go into Libya why do we not go into other hot spots like the Ivory coast. I don't think we should be the world policeman and I am glad to see that NATO is involved.