Translation: “Well, this is certainly a mess.”
Obama’s current dilemma is one of his own making. Russia’s plan seems to be a delaying tactic that Assad will exploit, and it’s an idea that they have apparently been pushing for some time. The plan only became legitimized when Kerry announced that Assad could avert an attack by relinquishing his weapons. If Obama had not been hurtling toward an embarrassing defeat in Congress over his request for a resolution to allow the use of force, perhaps he would have swatted away Putin’s proposal, as Kerry’s aides initially did. Instead, Obama used the last-minute diplomatic opportunity to save himself from a stinging rebuke from lawmakers, similar to what David Cameron suffered in the U.K.
Indeed, if there was any chance of winning that vote, Obama would have pressed forward with even more determination after Russia announced its plan, because the congressional resolution would have strengthened Obama in his negotiations. That’s the sequence George W. Bush used in 2002: first he won a congressional resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq; then he secured a U.N. resolution giving Iraq “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations.”
Ironically, as the negotiations continue in Geneva and New York, Obama now finds himself in the same situation as Bush, only without the backing of Congress
Yes, we have had over two weeks now of watching various Obama cheerleader entities and individuals questioning him for longer than an few minutes. This may be the first truly “historic” thing in a presidency that is always being called that by the press.
The question remains whether these people who have experienced a few lucid moments and, like Ryan Lizza, realized there isn’t much nice to say about how the president has handled any of it, will continue to find fault with him or comfort convince themselves that he was only monumentally incompetent this one time.