Well, I figured we’d go ten, maybe 12 days before seeing this story:
A State Department spokesman on Friday signaled that the president’s mandate that Iran has two weeks to permit inspections of its recently unveiled uranium refinement plant was not “written in stone.”
“I don’t think that there’s a hard-and-fast deadline,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said during Friday’s press briefing, after a reporter asked what the consequences of Iran’s inaction might be.
“I think that we’ve made it quite clear this was a matter of some urgency; that we expected [Iran] to take urgent and concrete steps to open up this facility, and not only just open it up but also make sure that we were able to — or that the IAEA would be able to — talk to some of the engineers there and see documents and plans,” Kelly added.
Remember the August recess “deadline” for dismantling what little good remains of our health care system? Remember the fierce moral urgency for closing Gitmo? Remember… OK, let me put this another way.
Obama can’t rally his own party to pass the domestic legislation he made the centerpiece of his campaign. So it’s no wonder that Obama can’t keep his generals from leaking private memos, as he publicly dithers over Afghanistan. It’s no wonder the Russians won’t even pretend to stay bought. And it’s no surprise that he’s already backing off yet another so-called ultimatum.
(What is surprising is that the Iranians didn’t piss in his face first. That seems to help.)
A democratic leader’s strength on the world stage comes primarily (although not exclusively) from his ability to rouse his people. But first, he’s got to be able to rally his most loyal and public and powerful supporters — his party in Congress. Maybe that was the reason for Obama’s rush on the stimulus, on cap & tax, and on health care.
Obama is no dummy — he might very well have known that his foreign policy proposals would lead to a massive loss of prestige. In which case, the way to maintain his effectiveness at home (and to hell with abroad, obviously) was to keep Congress playing his tune and the public enraptured by the melody.
The problem with that line of thought is, Congress sees that Obama won’t stand up to a semi-comic figure like Hugo Chavez — so why should Pelosi & Reid give him what he wants when they could give him what they want, instead?
When a genuine tough guy, like a Vlad Putin or a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, sees the American President get rolled by Nancy Pelosi… well, it’s pretty much, “Game over, man. Game over!”
OK, that’s what Vlad is thinking. Ahmadinejad is probably thinking, and not even wistfully, of the other great line from Aliens. You know the one.
“I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit.”
UPDATE: More from POWIP.