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Obama Receives More Criticism For His Rocky Leadership On Syria

- September 12, 2013

Time’s Joe Klein: Obama Has “Damaged His Presidency And Weakened The Nation’s Standing In The World.” “He willingly jumped into a bear trap of his own creation. In the process, he has damaged his presidency and weakened the nation’s standing in the world.” (Joe Klein, “Obama And Styria: Stumbling Toward Damascus,” Time, 9/11/13)

  • Klein: Obama’s Handling Of The Syrian Crisis “Has Been One Of The More Stunning And Inexplicable Displays Of Presidential Incompetence That I’ve Ever Witnessed.” “It has been one of the more stunning and inexplicable displays of presidential incompetence that I’ve ever witnessed. The failure cuts straight to the heart of a perpetual criticism of the Obama White House: that the President thinks he can do foreign policy all by his lonesome. This has been the most closely held American foreign-policy-making process since Nixon and Kissinger, only there’s no Kissinger.” (Joe Klein, “Obama And Styria: Stumbling Toward Damascus,” Time, 9/11/13)

The Washington Post Editorial: “In Sum, The President’s Approach To Syria Remains Muddled.” (Editorial, “Stumbling Toward A Solution On Syria,” The Washington Post, 9/11/13)

  • The Washington Post Editorial: Obama Had Offered “Stumbling, Improvised And Often Inconsistent” Explanations For Military Action Before His “Dizzying Pivot Toward An Ad Hoc Diplomatic Initiative.”  “President Obama approached his address to the country Tuesday night in a deep political hole — one largely of his own digging. As the president and his aides have argued for a military response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, support for a strike among Americans and members of Congress has decreased. That’s largely because Mr. Obama and his administration offered stumbling, improvised and often inconsistent explanations for why military action is needed and what effect it would have. And that was before Monday’s dizzying pivot toward an ad hoc diplomatic initiative to place Syria’s arsenal under international supervision.” (Editorial, “Stumbling Toward A Solution On Syria,” The Washington Post, 9/11/13)

USA Today’s Susan Page: “It Was Hard To Avoid The Impression That A Potential Diplomatic Solution Appeared Out Of Nowhere After The White House Had Insisted All Such Diplomatic Avenues Had Been Exhausted.” (Susan Page, “Analysis: Did Obama Set Foreign Policy Via Gaffes? USA Today, 9/11/13)

  • Page: There Is “A Perception That On This Issue Has Been A Reluctant Leader.” “For Obama, too, there are hurdles, including a perception that on this issue has been a reluctant leader who has struggled to convince Congress or the American public to follow him. That’s not a helpful image on the world stage or at home, where his calendar in coming weeks is pretty daunting: Battles over financing the government, funding the Affordable Care Act and more.” (Susan Page, “Analysis: Did Obama Set Foreign Policy Via Gaffes? USA Today, 9/11/13)

The New York TimesMaureen Dowd: “Oh, For The Good Old Days When Obama Was Leading From Behind. Now These Guys Are Leading By Slip-Of-The-Tongue.” (Maureen Dowd, Op-Ed, “Who Do You Trust?” New York Times, 9/10/13)

  • Dowd: “Obama’s Flip-Flopping, Ambivalent Leadership Led Him To The Exact Place He Never Wanted To Be: Unilateral Instead Of Unified.”  (Maureen Dowd, “Who Do You Trust?” New York Times, 9/10/13)

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank: “The President, In The Space Of His 16-Minute Address, Was Often At Odds With Himself.” (Dana Milbank, Op-Ed, “Obama’s Syria Muddle,” The Washington Post, 9/10/13)

  • Milbank: “The Administration’s Frequent Shifts Convey The Feeling That It Is A Spectator Observing World Affairs.” “The administration’s frequent shifts convey the feeling that it is a spectator observing world affairs. Russia is drafting a proposal. France is taking a different proposal to the United Nations. And the people’s House has returned to its previously scheduled program: holding votes undoing Obamacare.” (Dana Milbank, Op-Ed, “Obama’s Syria Muddle,” The Washington Post, 9/10/13)
  • Milbank: Obama “Appears To Be A Bystander.” “Obama’s leadership, particularly in his second term, can most charitably be described as subtle. But he is so subtle that he sometimes appears to be a bystander.” (Dana Milbank, Op-Ed, “Obama’s Syria Muddle,” The Washington Post, 9/10/13)

Politico: Obama’s Syria Declarations Have Been A “Zig-Zag Foreign Policy.” “Two weeks of zig-zag foreign policy by President Barack Obama — marching to war one moment, clinging desperately to diplomacy the next — culminated Tuesday night, appropriately enough, in a zig-zag address to the nation that did little to clarify what will come next in the Syria crisis but shined a glaring hot light on the debate in the president’s own mind.” (John F. Harris, “President Obama’s Zig vs. Zag”, Politico, 9/11/13)

National Journal’s Ron Fournier: “Almost Everything Else About President Obama's Handling Of Syria--The Fumbling And Flip-Flopping And Marble-Mouthing--Undercut His Credibility, And Possibly With It His Ability To Lead The Nation And World.” “The good news is we're not at war. The bad news is … almost everything else about President Obama's handling of Syria--the fumbling and flip-flopping and marble-mouthing--undercut his credibility, and possibly with it his ability to lead the nation and world.” (Ron Fournier, “Syria Tells You Everything You Need To Know About Barack Obama,” National Journal, 9/10/13)

Former Clinton Secretary Of Defense William Cohen: “I Don’t Know What The Mission Is Frankly.” WILLIAM COHEN: “So I think he’s in a box, a trap door has been pulled and he’s out of the box for the moment but I think with all of the mixed messages we’ve had -- first it was going to be a strong strike against Syria. Then pulled back, well, it would be a little strike, the littlest possible strike. Then it was going to be a shot across the bow. Now it is going to be something targeted and really effective. I don’t know what the mission is frankly.” (CNBC’s “Squawk On The Street,” 9/11/13)

  • Cohen: “Stumbling, Improvised, And Often Incoherent” Is A “Proper Characterization” Of Obama’s Syria Policy.  SIMON HOBBS:  “What do you think is going on behind the scenes during this time about who he’s listening to at what point and what they’re learning along the way, a process or communication policy that the ‘Washington Post’ editorial describes today as ‘stumbling, improvised, and often incoherent?’” WILLIAM COHEN: Well, I think that’s a proper characterization.” (CNBC’s “Squawk On The Street,” 9/11/13)

Cohen: Obama’s Syria Policy “Something Out Of Dr. Dolittle.” COHEN: “Because of all of the mixed messages last week, I said it was something out of Dr. Dolittle in terms of having a push me/pull you policy.” (CNBC’s “Squawk On The Street,” 9/11/13)


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