Atlantic's Goldberg: 'I'm Not Flacking for Obama on Foreign Policy, But'

Methinks the Goldberg doth protest too much . . . Twice during his appearance on today's Morning Joe, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg claimed that he wasn't there to "flack" for President Obama on foreign policy . . . but then proceeded to do just that.

The Atlantic recently published a long piece by Goldberg on Obama's foreign policy, based on the author's interviews of the president and some of his top national security aides. In his first flack, Goldberg defended Obama's cool-dude shades-wearing, wave-doing attendance at a Cuban baseball game and his tangoing in Argentina in the immediate wake of the Brussels bombings: "he's philosophically committed that terrorism will not defeat us." In his second flack, he defended Obama's giving up on the Middle East, claiming the president was being "practical" and "understands the tragic limitations of the American presidency." [Thank God Ronald Reagan didn't realize he could never bring down that wall.]

Note: Joe Scarborough offered a good counterpoint to Goldberg's defense of Obama, saying that his protestations notwithstanding "you have been flacking this morning." Joe also observed "I am not here to deliver Republican talking points, but -- but, I found it hard to believe that he was doing the wave with Castro while they were still scraping American body parts off of the airport."

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So, I want to ask you, you've been writing some extraordinary articles about the president's foreign policy of late. I want to ask you to speak to the part of his foreign policy that flummoxes not only his critics but a lot of Democrats as well that voted for him. And that is his ability in the midst of Paris and Brussels and the beheading of Americans to do just the opposite of what many Americans want him to do. Go golfing after a beheading. Do the tango and do the wave after Brussels, seem oddly disconnected after Paris. 

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: I don't want to be here to flack for him necessarily, but -- 

JOE: Well, this would be a great place to try -- 

GOLDBERG: It would be a great moment. He's philosophically committed to the idea that terrorism will not defeat us. That I as the president will not wait in the White House for bad things to happen and then instill panic or promote xenophobia or excessive worry. That we're going to treat these as terrible criminal gangs and we're going to defeat them deliberately and I'm not going to stop my -- 

JOE: And I am not here to deliver Republican talking points, but -- but, I found it hard to believe that he was doing the wave with Castro while they were still scraping American body parts off of the airport in the place that has been the center of NATO for 50 years. 

. . .

JOE: If his mindset is, we have given up on the Middle East, he's just passing these problems over to the next president. 

GOLDBERG: That's one way to interpret it. Again, not here to flack. God knows. But, but, that's one way to interpret it.

JOE: You have been flacking this morning. 

GOLDBERG: I know, I know. I'm trying -- 

JOE: Is this how you get to #6 [on a recently-published list of most influential Jews on Twitter]?

GOLDBERG: This is probably how I get to #2. What I would say is that he is simply looking at the situation in a practical way and saying, I'm not going to fix this. My successor is not going to fix this. One of the things he has is the understanding of the tragic limitations of the presidency. This is very hard for a president in America to actual go tell the American people but I can't do everything. But I think he's saying, I cannot change the Middle East culture or Middle East politics. I'll deal with it as it comes. 

 

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.