How shambolic of a smoking ruin is the Obama presidency? When Tina Brown surveys the wreckage, the best—the best!—thing she sees, the thing she believes will be Barack Obama's shining legacy, is his handling of Iran and Syria, which she declares to be "smart," and of course, "nuanced."
The Obamacare catastrophe? Not to worry. On today's Morning Joe, Brown assured us that those problems are "transient." No, look over here, at President Obama's masterful handling of foreign policy! Yes, years from now, when the minor hiccups of the Obamacare rollout will be long forgotten, people will still be marvelling at how well Barack Obama dealt with Iran and Syria. View the video here.
It goes without saying that the reason Susan Rice was scrapped from consideration to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State last year was due to the claims she made on numerous television programs the Sunday after our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked.
Despite this, when CNN's Fareed Zakaria did a twelve minute interview with Rice Sunday, he didn't mention Benghazi at all.
On Monday's The Last Word show, after former chess champion and Russian political activist Garry Kasparov charged that President Obama had "blown up [the] reputation of his office" by allowing Russian President Vladimir Putin to talk him down from his "red line" warning against Syria, MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell tried to argue that Obama had not really lost face since he never specifically promised military action, even though the President warned of "enormous consequences" if chemical weapons were used.
The back and forth started after O'Donnell asked "what advice" the Russian activist had for Secretary of State John Kerry's "day to day negotiations" on the matter, prompting Kasparov to respond:
MSNBC’s Alex Witt loves to ask questions that try to steer her guests toward a certain response, and she was at it again on Saturday’s edition of Weekends with Alex Witt. The host attempted to get three separate guests to agree with her that President Obama was last week’s “big winner” for stumbling onto a potential diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis. When the third guest was critical of Obama, an incredulous Witt challenged his answer.
During the first hour of her two-hour program, Witt was discussing the recent U.S.-Russia deal to try and get Syrian President Bashar al Assad to give up his chemical weapons. She asked Reuters columnist David Rohde: “You know, doesn't President Obama actually come out the big winner here ultimately? Because without firing a shot, you said you believe that Syria will get rid of its chemical weapons.” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Expecting Syria to live up to an agreement between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the cataloging, inspection, removal and eventual destruction or sequester of chemical weapons is a subtle seduction.
Why would a dictator like Bashar al-Assad relinquish his most potent weapon in the midst of a civil war? President Obama and his sycophants claim it was the threat of military action against Syria that focused Assad's mind. That hardly seems credible after Kerry's promise that any U.S. missile strike would be "unbelievably small."
In a 66-paragraph masterpiece, Journal reporters Adam Entous, Janet Hook, and Carol Lee gave a behind-the-scenes look of how, "Through mixed messages, miscalculations, and an 11th-hour break, the U.S. stumbled into an international crisis and then stumbled out of it." Among other things disclosed, "The same day [Secretary of State John] Kerry made his fateful remark" that Syria could simply give up its weapons to the international community, "the State Department sent Congress a memo detailing: 'Russian Obstruction of Actions on Syria.'" It really is a great exploration of the Keystone Kops nature of the Obama team's bungling of Syrian foreign policy. Here's a taste (emphasis mine):
CNN's Chris Cuomo teed up Sen. John McCain to bash fellow Republicans on Monday's New Day, for putting partisanship before the country on Syria and the budget.
"Do you believe if there were President Romney that members of your party would have the same resistance to going in that they are showing right now?" Cuomo pressed McCain on a Syria intervention. Would Cuomo ask if Democrats were supporting President Obama's foreign policy purely out of partisanship? [Video below the break. Audio here.]
If President Barack Obama is losing Al Hunt, there is definitely trouble in Lefty-land.
But let's not go too far. In the midst of leveling criticisms at Obama as "bordering on incompetence," the former host of CNN's Capital Gang and executive editor at Bloomberg News, who is now a Bloomberg View columnist and host of a Bloomberg TV's Political Capital Sunday news show, cited three examples of supposedly indisputable George W. Bush administration incompetence, none of which fits the description.
According to the reporters on Monday's Good Morning America, Barack Obama's "potentially groundbreaking" plan for Syria faces "heat" from critics who think it's a "bad deal." In a shift from last week, ABC allowed more skepticism for the President's handling of the ongoing situation. Yet, Jon Karl still touted, "John Kerry accomplished a big first step. Getting [Russia] to agree that Syria must give a comprehensive accounting of all its chemical weapons within one week."
George Stephanopoulos wondered if "this weekend's potentially groundbreaking deal will really eliminate Assad's chemical weapons." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] The GMA/This Week anchor touted his "exclusive interview" with the President from Sunday, but noted that Obama's "critics say he made a bad deal on Syria."
Thanks, Dylan Byers. You've done those who recognize liberal establishment press bias as an irrefutable reality a big favor.
The Politico media reporter's lengthy excerpt from a longer column — I'd call it a "tease," but it's 14 paragraphs — is entitled "Obama Loses the Media." That means Obama has had 'em in his pocket until now. The rumors of permanent loss are likely exaggerated. Several paragraphs from from the lengthy excerpt and the column itself follow the jump.
In a bizarre writeup which alternates between harsh criticism and a pity party about President Barack Obama's "toughness" or lack thereof in the wake of the withdrawal of Larry Summers from consideration as the next head of the Federal Reserve, Politico's Jonathan Allen unleashed a ridiculous assertion about the history of the administration's Syrian adventure: "In another debate that never came up for a vote the White House could have easily lost, Obama was led into asking Congress for approval to bomb Syria."
One wonders how the leader of the still most powerful country on earth can be "led" into anything, but especially in this case, given that it was Obama who came up with the "brilliant" idea of asking for Congressional authorization even though he said he didn't need it.
CNN’s Candy Crowley did her best Hillary Clinton Sunday.
During a State of the Union discussion about the American-Russian agreement concerning Syria, Crowley asked a skeptical Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), "Who cares" that "Russia got the diplomatic edge?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan had a rather shocking observation about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments about American exceptionalism in his New York Times op-ed last week.
Appearing on PBS’s McLaughlin Group Friday, Buchanan said, “He’s not only appealing to the people of the world. He’s appealing to that half of the United States to whom Barack Obama himself was appealing.”
On Inside Washington Friday, PBS’s Mark Shields and NPR’s Nina Totenberg predictably echoed the Administration’s claims that its threats of force in Syria led Russian President Vladimir Putin to broker a chemical weapons deal.
Fortunately for viewers, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer was present to scold his fellow panelists for “spinning from the White House” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Bill Maher came back from his summer vacation predictably attacking conservatives while defending Barack Obama.
During his New Rules segment, the HBO Real Time host said with pictures of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on screen, “Scientists must study the correlation between not having a chin and being an a—hole” (video follows with commentary):
In the era of "warmonger" Republicans in the White House, the Toronto International Film Festival would have been fertile ground for bold, outspoken "dissent" from actors against war in the Middle East. Now with Obama on the brink of missile attacks in Syria, you would expect the same agitation, but this time coupled with a dash of betrayal.
Instead, the Hollywood Reporter found nothing there but an icy pile of "no comments" from more than a dozen celebs, including Susan Sarandon, Josh Brolin, Penn Jillette and Tim Robbins.
Americans unsure what to think about President Obama's plans for Syria should remember that all military action undertaken by Democrats for the last half-century has led to utter disaster. (With the possible exception of the Village People's "Y.M.C.A." video, which I say still holds up.)
Democrats are gung-ho about deploying the U.S. military provided only that it will harm the national security interests of the United States, but vehemently oppose interventions that serve American interests.
ABC on Friday morning again tried to prop up Barack Obama's handling of Syria, hyping "encouraging news" and "signs of hope." Reporter Martha Raddatz touted White House spin on Russia's involvement in plans to secure chemical weapons, asserting, "Secretary Kerry saying the dialogue thus far has been constructive. What a difference a few days and a threat of force makes." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
She failed to highlight a story in the Wall Street Journal that Syria's military has secretly moved chemical weapons to "as many as 50 sites to make them harder for the U.S. to track." This ominous piece of news wasn't revealed until the 8am news hour – and then only in a 19-second news brief. Instead, Raddatz trumpeted meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: "This morning, before round two of talks, encouraging news. Secretary Kerry saying the dialogue thus far has been constructive." On Thursday's World News, Raddatz put America and Russia on equal footing, touting a "showdown of world titans."
At the start of an interview with Senator Bob Corker on Thursday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, host Chuck Todd demanded the Tennessee Republican justify criticism of President Obama's poor handling of Syria: "You've been very tough on the President, you said he's a diminished figure on Capitol Hill. And you even questioned whether he knew how to speak as a commander-in-chief. Explain yourself on that." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Corker replied: "I am really disappointed in the way the President addresses our country and does not really make a case for what is our national interest." Todd quickly pushed back: "He had no political support. It was pretty clear. I mean, this was...going down in flames in Congress. It wasn't going to be a close vote. What was he supposed to do? He didn't have – he did not have the political will of the country, nor the political will of your colleagues on Capitol Hill."
While the liberal media predictably focus on the domestic political ramifications for President Obama as regards his strange and ever-evolving policy on Syria, the real story worth reporting is how Obama may actually be strengthening Bashar Assad's hand, even making him "a national hero" who can not only survive but thrive as a result.
In her September 12 front-page story "Syrian Rebels Hurt By Delay," The Wall Street Journal's Nour Malas has an excellent story to that effect. Filing from Istanbul, she quotes Mohammmed al-Daher, "a commander in the rebels' Western backed Free Syria Army" as lamenting that he "wouldn't be surprised if the end result of these negotiations is that [Assad] remains as president and beyond that, turns into a national hero who saved his country." Malas continued (emphasis mine):
"One does not sharpen the axes after the right time; after the time they are needed." -- Russian Proverb
The late Ukrainian violinist Mischa Elman is considered one of the greatest of all time, but he has nothing on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has played the Obama administration better than any musician.
Roughly ten days ago, CNN's Fareed Zakaria said, "[T]he administration's handling of Syria over the last year has been a case study in how not to do foreign policy."
On Wednesday, Zakaria wrote a piece for the Washington Post in which he conceded, "Obama’s proposals are also not likely to reduce the humanitarian crisis" in Syria, but yet in his view, the new plan involving Russia "is a significant success."