Max Boot writes, “There are many tests of a president, but one of the most important is:”
Can he (or in the future she) abandon cherished programs when they simply do not work in the real world and adopt a policy that does?
Many great presidents have passed this test. Truman abandoned the defense drawdown after the North Korean invasion of South Korea and launched a massive defense buildup. Eisenhower abandoned his campaign policy of “rollback” in favor of continuing Truman’s policy of containment. Carter abandoned his general dovishness after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and launched a defense buildup. Reagan abandoned his outreach to Iran after it became public and his peacekeeping deployment in Lebanon after the bombing of the Marine barracks. George H.W. Bush abandoned his “no new taxes” pledge to get a budget agreement that helped to eliminate the deficit. Bill Clinton abandoned his health-care plan to adopt a more centrist approach to governing. And George W. Bush abandoned his “small footprint” approach in Iraq to order the surge, which saved the country from collapse.
Now President Obama is facing this test in his foreign policy. Can he pivot away from failure?
Well, based on past performance, as we’ve said before, to borrow from Talleyrand, Barack Obama has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. It’s difficult to see him rising to this challenge — if indeed that’s how he views it — and adapting, but I’d love to wrong about the man.
Update: Nope. With Iraq on the brink, establishment liberal Website (read: Obama cheering gallery) The Hill is running yet another “Is Obama done with Washington?” article as a reminder that the president either gets his way, or he tunes out completely.