Obama’s Relentless Use of ‘Relentless’

Perhaps the conclusion is clear enough without also citing the times President Obama has used “relentless” to describe his focus on job creation, or his efforts to stop the Gulf Coast oil spill, or in connection with numerous other situations. The word is a verbal tic, an adjective routinely applied to whatever the president is talking about, often used to persuade people of something that may be more rhetorical than real. Indeed, as in the case of Benghazi, it may be a lie.

President Obama established himself early on as the “words matter” presidential candidate (using borrowed words), and he has relentlessly employed unequivocal rhetorical statements: telling people they could keep their insurance if they liked it; establishing a “red line” in Syria that could not be crossed without “enormous consequences"; declaring two years ago that Assad “had to go"; repeatedly assuring everyone that “all options are on the table” regarding Iran.

But Americans who liked their insurance policies lost them anyway. The guy who had to go, got to stay. The red line was repeatedly crossed and the consequences for the guy who crossed it was he remained in power, free to keep killing more than 100,000 of his citizens as long as he used conventional means. Iran marched on towards its goal, while credulous commentators thought Obama must mean what he said about all options on the table, because he said it so many times. Relentless repetition was taken as a sign of credibility.

But the coin of presidential credibility has been debased, as relentless repetition has proven an unreliable indicator of the truth. Will the administration relentlessly enforce the existing Iran sanctions -- even after Iran sent a shot across the bow in response to the State Department announcement, effectively warning the president that the slow-walking better resume if he wants to keep the Joint Plan of Action in Our Time going?

Who knows? It all depends on what the meaning of “relentless” is, assuming it has any meaning at all.