The Syria Dodge

Have you noticed how almost all of Obama’s critics on Syria have berated him for the optics, but have never said what they would have done in each particular moment? Greg Sargent has. Money quote:

What this whole dodge comes down to is that one can’t admit to thinking that going to Congress and pursuing a diplomatic solution are the right goals for Obama to pursue, without undermining one’s ability to criticize Obama for betraying abstract qualities we all know a president is “supposed” to possess. It’s simply presumed to be a positive when a president shows “strength” by “not changing his mind,” and it’s simply presumed to be a negative when he shows “weakness” by changing course in midstream. That’s “indecisive,” and that’s bad, you see. But it’s a lot harder to sustain these “rules” if you admit you agree with the actual goals Obama is pursuing with these changes of mind. After all, if Obama’s changes of mind have now pointed him towards goals you agree with, how was changing course a bad thing?

People should come clean about what they really believe about all this stuff.

But that would require them leaving Politico-style bullshit and actually looking at the situation and trying to figure out the best way forward for US interests. And that’s hard. It’s sooo much easier to talk in crude and spectacularly dumb terms like “strong” or “weak” without any reference to the goals at hand. The dirty truth: pundits are so much more comfortable examining style because they’re actually too lazy or terrified of actually tackling the substance, let alone taking a stand on it.