We didn’t expect much. He lived up to that.
Pre-empting ‘Jeopardy’ tonight, Obama served up the same vague, content-less platitudes that intoxicated his enablers in 2008. He spoke almost Bach-like, leaving the audience to deliver the counter-fugue. “We are not a nation that stands by when tragedy happens.” Except when we do. Clinging to the humanitarian theme, Obama underscored regime change is *not* an American objective. Yet it is; he’s demanded Khaddafi go several times already, etc.
Obama spent most of his energies justifying why he unilaterally declared war on Libya. (Even Dick Cheney for God’s sake went through the motions to observe form. Bush secured two Authorizations to Use Military Force (2001 and 2002)). We can only offer a sad smile to the chuckleheads running around 2007-2008 declaring Obama ‘a constitutional scholar’ (We know personally something about who is entitled to that honorific). It doesn’t matter. His intentions are pure and prudent.
His fugal theme of intentions and prudence tried to cover a strategic vacuity. He developed no harmonic themes defining success, concrete objectives or why he believes he can choose sides in a civil war without cost. His chordal progressions avoided any program or agenda. Just pure, prudent intentions.
Thus, his critics must be mute; his intentions, after all, are noble.
Obama claimed his one-man war on Libya is born of unique circumstances:
(a) the UN agrees (meaning China and Russia abstained);
(b) the Arab League gave a fig leaf;
(c) Sarkozy is about to be crushed in French elections and cut off by his wife – he’s desperate;
(d) Cameron in London is unusually dunder-headed and clueless;
(e) other than the Germans and Turks fussing about, NATO was signed, sealed, delivered;
(f) Americans watching Japan are already on ferrin neyooz overload; and
(g) best of all, because no one really knows what the hell is going on over there, Americans generally will be down with bombing brown people provided some smile on CNN. (Americans love people who thank the U.S. for dropping bombs on their country).
Most (all?) of the above is, of course, ex-post facto rationalization. The truth is far uglier. You, Dear Reader, know that Obama simply pulled . . . an Obama.
It’s all of a piece. Libya is no different than his collusion and subsequent 9 month abdication on health care reform. Same with his absence from securing meaningful FinReg. The BP episode? Escalating in Afghanistan while promising to leave? Letting banks walk on foreclosure fraud? His embrace of Addington’s Unitary Executive? Silent disengagement from the Movement 2009-11 at State and Federal levels? Yup, yup, yup, yup. . . yup. And so on.
The Arab League is delighted to divert American frustration to Libya. Bomb him, go to town, do your thing. And shut up about protestors shot in the streets. London and Paris need a foreign diversion. Need to roll out freedom again? By all means. Having some trouble with your virility? Take 112 Tomahawks and call in the morning. There can be no Obama Doctrine because expediency is one word.
Pure intentions are always used to cajole Americans. War to end all wars. War to make Democracy safe. No more Munichs in the Mekong blah blah blah. Works every time initially. Sentiment, however, blinds all to the opportunity costs. People have only so much bandwidth. A burn and churn maw in Libya will divert focus from matters of genuine strategic import. There’s a reason Beijing abstained. For the record history will note Libya worse than a crime, a mistake.
When a man stands for nothing he can always cobble together a narrative to justify where the wind blew him. But like tonight’s speech that narrative can’t tell us where he wants to go and how he intends to get there.
More than that, it’s obvious to anyone Obama isn’t a fighter. He’s never drawn a line personally, taken bloody, pulverizing punches. He’s never been rocked back, fallen down, stood up and retaken ground. (2008 isn’t a valid comparison. His first major challenge was the self-destructing HRC campaign. His second was riding Bush, global economic catastrophe and oh, John McCain to the finish line). Every capital in the world has this PDF file by now.
As we wrote before, to paraphrase Forrest Gump, “Half-assed is as half-assed does.” And like Gump, Obama may saunter to an objectively undeserved second term. Who here thinks Newt, Barbour, Tpaw, Romney et. al will force Obama to at least shuffle, if not dance, floating like a butterfly? Thought so.