Peggy Noonan says it’s past time for President Obama to sit down, address the nation, and tell us what the hell we’re doing in Libya:
I cannot for the life of me see how an American president can launch a serious military action without a full and formal national address in which he explains to the American people why he is doing what he is doing, why it is right, and why it is very much in the national interest. He referred to his aims in parts of speeches and appearances when he was in South America, but now he’s home. More is needed, more is warranted, and more is deserved. He has to sit at that big desk and explain his thinking, put forward the facts as he sees them, and try to garner public support. He has to make a case for his own actions. It’s what presidents do! And this is particularly important now, because there are reasons to fear the current involvement will either escalate and produce a lengthy conflict or collapse and produce humiliation.
Here’s the thing, Peggy. Obama has now waited so long, and spent so much of the intervening time traveling and doing other things, that the American public has pretty much made up its mind about Libya. We’re pretty sure that “the current involvement will either escalate and produce a lengthy conflict or collapse and produce humiliation.” Exactly, yes.
We’re pretty sure because the President didn’t sit us down beforehand and tell us what we were in for. Instead, we saw on TV and read on the innerwebs that our war aims are confused, our war means are too little, and our allies are disappearing. We saw that China and Russia were kind enough not to use their UN veto, but cruel enough to turn and snarl once the shooting began. In other words, they helped dress up that tar baby real nice. We watched our President get snookered — again — while talking up green jobs in Brazil.
So maybe President Obama will sit down behind the desk and in front of the cameras and give us the little talk he should have given us two weeks ago. But what good will it do? He didn’t lead us to this place; he kind of wandered in and around and now is looking to wander back out. We get that already. A speech now won’t bring the soft gauze of the Libyan War into any sharper focus — not even if it’s written by Peggy Noonan.