Victor Davis Hanson was the last guest I interviewed in five hours of broadcasting Tuesday that included a dozen different foreign policy experts and political journalists. The consensus is that the president took a terrible situation and made it worse with what Bill Kristol called a “mini-Munich” speech, a continuation and amplification of what Joe Scarborough termed a Mr. Magoo foreign policy. (See also Bill Kristol’s note on the president’s use of FDR rhetoric from a, well, unfortunate period of his presidency.)
President Obama managed to embrace the Bush Doctrine –WMD in the hands of terrorists could threaten America and thus oblige us to act– and the reject just such action in the same speech. The president also disfigured the historical record of W’s gaining Congressional consent to military action, and all but declared “peace in our time,” as he called off the votes in Congress and sent John Kerry off to beg favors from the Russian foreign minister. He thumped a bit when he said that the American military doesn’t deliver pinpricks, but ludicrously so less than 36 hours after Secretary Kerry committed to an “unbelievable small” attack.
On the spectrum of military force between pinpricks and “unbelievably small” strikes, how many gradations are there? Risible, as so much of the speech was.
As one caller put it, the president’s problem is that he had to give a speech with John Kerry’s foot in his mouth. Another caller suggested that the first 2/3rds of the speech was like the “Dallas dream” sequence which POTUS awoke from in time to reverse everything he had said and hinted at doing up until wake-up call arrived mid-speech.
The Wall Street Journal editorial headlines says it all: “Obama Rescues Assad.”