Except for pundits like Andrew Sullivan who reacted to the president’s speech on Syria with delight (“That was one of the clearest, simplest and most moving presidential speeches to the nation I can imagine”), most people understood that the president left the building the moment he finished speaking. What’s left is Barack Obama, the sometime activist from Chicago. Sullivan stumbled on the truth by ending his adulatory article with this observation: “Yes, he’s still a community organizer. It’s just that now, the community he is so effectively organizing is the world.”
Fortunately, for almost everyone else the sad facts are plain enough. Maureen Dowd has even started calling him “Barry.” He’s the man who bought his political life from Putin at a staggering price. The Wall Street Journal observes that “Obama Rescues Assad.” Obama offered a deal “that could leave Assad in power for years,” according to the Times of London. The Washington Examiner says that Obama’s miscues “handed Russia the driver’s seat”; Foreign Affairs concurs.
Perhaps the most painful characterization of Obama’s incoherence came from the New York Times, which characterized his Syria address as follows: “Planned as a call to act, Obama’s speech became a plea to wait.”
It’s like he started for Canada and wound up in Mexico. This confusion was rapidly being sold as a “pivot” — notwithstanding the fact that the turnabout occurred in the same speech, almost as if Obama were surprising himself.