The Corner

Obama’s Redline Problem — and Ours

Obama’s statement just now about how it’s not his red line will get recycled a lot over the next few days. He said “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.” He also said, “My credibility is not on the line. International credibility is on the line.”

If you actually watch Obama’s August 20, 2012, statement about red lines, it’s pretty obvious he’s not telling the truth now. If you need a moment to hie thyself to a fainting couch to deal with the shock that Obama would say something untrue, I will wait a moment.

Now, in the cable news and twitter cycle, this will be fodder for a lot of psychoanalysis about Obama’s political persona and his refusal to take responsibility.  And that’s all fair game as far as I am concerned. I think Ramesh pretty much nailed it on twitter: “So we’re going to go to war to defend the credibility of a comment Obama won’t take responsibility for.”

What bothers me — and what I think gets to the core of the White House’s poor messaging — is the degree to which these guys think the best arguments are those that hang all this on the “international community.” I certainly understand that Obama can’t go around saying “save my credibility!” or “please, Congress, cover the check my mouth wrote!” But given the mood this country is in, selling this as a mission for the “international community’s” credibility probably hurts more than helps. As I keep saying, I don’t think America is in an isolationist moment. I think America has had it to here [my hand is at my forehead] with the Middle East (save for Israel), and while they understand why chemical weapons are bad and should be banned, they want an answer to the question “Why does it have to be us?”  You can’t answer that question with “it’s not about us, it’s about the international community” — no matter how creative you get. 


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