On Wednesday, for instance, President Barack Obama declared: “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.”
In fact, on Aug. 20, 2012, Obama said, “We have been very clear to the Assad regime ... that a red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”
Obama installed the trip wire for war with Syria. Now, on the brink of combat, he disowns it.
Last week, Obama had an uncharacteristically bellicose Secretary of State John Kerry virtually announce that “bombing begins in five minutes.” One day later, Obama virtually announced that “debate begins in five minutes.” Obama said he wanted Congress to permit hostilities. But rather than summon lawmakers to Washington, Obama let Congress’ summer vacation go on.
Still, Obama could have spent the rest of Saturday lobbying legislators. That would have signaled his single-mindedness and steely resolve. Instead, Obama played his 141st round of golf as president.
Such a lack of seriousness seems to be the Obama Doctrine’s active ingredient. Consider:
• Obama last June authorized the CIA to provide arms to the Free Syrian Army. “As of right now, they haven’t received one weapon from the United States,” lamented Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “Reports are that the United States has constrained other countries from giving them the kinds of things they need.”
• Last September, Obama met with precisely zero heads of state at the U.N. General Assembly, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who virtually begged to see his American counterpart. However, Obama did find time to offer himself as “eye candy” on the daytime talk show “The View.”
• Obama’s former aide, Reggie Love, recently revealed this scene from the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
“Most people were, like, down in the Situation Room and (the president) was, like, ‘I’m not going to be down there, I can’t watch this entire thing,’” Love said. “So,” referring to Obama, himself, and two other staffers, “we must have played 15 hands, 15 games of spades.”
That’s right. As Seal Team Six intrepidly pursued the man behind the slaughter on Sept. 11, 2001, their commander-in-chief played cards.
• According to a conservative watchdog group called the Government Accountability Institute, Obama skipped 58 percent of his presidential daily briefings between his first inauguration and last March 31. During the entire week before last Sept. 11’s massacre in Benghazi, Libya, Obama missed these interactive sessions with top intelligence personnel.
Unforgivably, Obama blew off his presidential briefing for three days after al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic terrorists killed four U.S. public servants in Benghazi. Obama finally sat down for a full briefing last Sept. 14 — his first such face-to-face huddle in nine days.
• After al-Qaida-trained crotch bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate 279 passengers and 11 crew members aboard a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines jet on Christmas Day 2009, Obama should have spoken on camera to reassure rattled Americans and remind terrorists of U.S. strength. Instead, he failed to interrupt his Hawaiian vacation and did not even appear publically for three days. Meanwhile, the National Counterterrorism Center’s then-director Michael Leiter left Dec. 26 for a six-day family ski trip.
Back to Syria. Obama’s policy seems to be to strike — but not for long, and not hard enough to topple Assad, even though Kerry compares him to Hitler. Under the War Powers Act, Obama could bomb Syria for 60 days without congressional approval. And yet Obama seeks Congress’ permission to strike. But if that fails, he may smack Syria anyway.
Amid epic chaos, Obama instills no confidence. This helps explain why so many Americans are reluctant to march to the wavering beat of this unsteady drummer.
Deroy Murdock is a Scripps Howard News Service columnist, Fox News contributor and Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace fellow.