How bad is it? Well, here’s a clip of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. In it, the group isn’t even polite about it – they simply point out that the administration is now engaged in lying about it’s rollout and the numbers involved. Even they can’t find it in themselves to prevaricate about what’s been going on. It’s a disaster and even the left can see that:
Usually, when something is so bad that it can’t be denied, even the left will finally admit it. Here’s that point. Two years after it was passed, two years of being able to enlist the help of world class contractors and putting a state-of-the art system together, what have we got?
The Edsel of systems. In fact, that’s not fair to Edsel. It at least ran.
Meanwhile, Kathleen Sebelius continues to cash her paychecks.
Not that I care, particularly, who gets the blame in all of this. Frankly I’m with the “a pox on both your houses” group that finds the entire Congress and the President to be equally at blame. But then there’s the “I’m fine with the shutdown and it is important for the GOP to make the spending point” that finds me mostly on the GOP’s side.
Look, we’ve seen the government shutdown before. And despite all the scare rhetoric, we’re not going to default on our debt. Nope, this is about how inconvenient this bunch who continues to want to run up debt can make this shutdown seem to the voters. The idea, obviously, is to have them screaming and whining enough to push the GOP into their usual position – the dying cockroach, where they give in and let the Democrats have their way. Result? The usual – more spending and more debt.
Anyway, to the AP poll:
The Associated Press-GfK survey, out Wednesday, affirms expectations by many in Washington — Republicans among them — that the GOP may end up taking the biggest hit in public opinion from the fiscal paralysis, just as that party did when much of the government closed 17 years ago. But the situation is fluid nine days into the shutdown and there’s plenty of disdain to go around.
Overall, 62 percent mainly blamed Republicans for the shutdown. About half said Obama or the Democrats in Congress bear much responsibility.
“About half” blame the Dems and Obama. Yet, Obama’s approval ratings drop by 10 points from his previous low of 47%. Hmmm. Must be more to it than “about half”, huh?
But the media spin machine prefers to lay it on the GOP.
As for ginning up support to pressure the GOP to cave, there’s still a ways to go:
More than 4 in 5 respondents felt no personal impact from the shutdown. For those who did, thwarted vacations to national parks, difficulty getting work done without federal contacts at their desks and hitches in government benefits were among the complaints.
And the “impact” with the worst optics (and mostly blamed on the administration)? The Gestapo like tactics of the Park police and the “Barrycades” at national monuments and parks.
— Sixty-eight percent said the shutdown is a major problem for the country, including majorities of Republicans (58 percent), Democrats (82 percent) and independents (57 percent).
— Fifty-two percent said Obama is not doing enough to cooperate with Republicans to end the shutdown; 63 percent say Republicans aren’t doing enough to cooperate with him.
— Republicans are split on just how much cooperation they want. Among those who do not back the tea party, fully 48 percent say their party should be doing more with Obama to find a solution. But only 15 percent of tea-party Republicans want that outreach. The vast majority of them say GOP leaders are doing what they should with the president, or should do even less with him.
— People seem conflicted or confused about the showdown over the debt limit. Six in 10 predict an economic crisis if the government’s ability to borrow isn’t renewed later this month with an increase in the debt limit — an expectation widely shared by economists. Yet only 30 percent say they support raising the limit; 46 percent were neutral on the question.
I didn’t look into the numbers on the poll, but I’d bet it is a bit Democrat heavy. That said, it’s interesting that a majority within that poll said Obama isn’t cooperating enough. That’s right, that’s over half. Somehow that’s buried in all of this (and yeah, that’s not just ‘about half’, that’s over half).
And the real story within the poll:
Most Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job, the poll suggests, with 53 percent unhappy with his performance and 37 percent approving of it.
It seems to me the “blame” is pretty evenly divided. I guess you can claim the GOP is getting most of it, but when you see an already low presidential approval rating drop by 10 point in the matter of a couple of weeks right in the middle of this nonsense, it’s hard to claim that 53% of the voters aren’t blaming the President.
However, if your messaging is directed toward blaming the GOP, well, you just sort of bury that in the story.
USA Today nails it:
President Obama’s chief technology adviser, Todd Park, blames the unexpectedly large numbers of people who flocked to Healthcare.gov and state websites. “Take away the volume and it works,” he told USA TODAY’s Tim Mullaney.
That’s like saying that except for the torrential rain, it’s a really nice day. Was Park not listening to the administration’s daily weather report predicting Obamacare’s popularity?
Park said the administration expected 50,000 to 60,000 simultaneous users. It got 250,000. Compare that with the similarly rocky debut seven years ago of exchanges to obtain Medicare drug coverage. The Bush administration projected 20,000 simultaneous users and built capacity for 150,000.
That’s the difference between competence and incompetence.
Yup … and all we’ve seen, for years with this current administration, is exercises in incompetence.
I remember when the word of the day for Democrats during the Bush years was “incompetence”. They had to work very hard to try to sell it.
Well, the sales job now would be a walk in the park. Except the parks are closed.
Incompetence – look in the dictionary and you’ll see this administration depicted.
Worst. Governance. Ever.
And that covers a lot of territory.
Not that it should come as any surprise to those familiar with our president. Nile Gardiner hits the sore spot:
The American Left’s hatred for all things conservative has been on full display in Washington in recent days, with the White House and its allies in Congress heaving with anger and indignation over mounting opposition to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and growing calls to defund it. President Obama has blamed Tea Party Republicans for what he calls a right-wing “ideological crusade” prompting the federal government shutdown. As the president put it in his Rose Garden press conference, “they’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job.” Obama allies have used similar inflammatory language over the past week, aimed at demonising anyone who disagrees with their approach. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has railed against Tea Party “anarchists,” and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has attacked what she calls “legislative arsonists.” Even former Vice President Al Gore has jumped in to the fray, accusing the GOP of “political terrorism.”
The harsh invective flowing from Washington’s liberal establishment has been nasty, juvenile and petty. This should be a moment for humility for the White House over its hugely unpopular Obamacare reforms, which are opposed by a significant majority of the American people. Ironically President Obama turns the other cheek on the world stage when it comes to challenges to US global power, and has made the appeasement of America’s enemies and strategic competitors into a form of art. But he acts in a truly imperial fashion at home, refusing to listen to the slightest hint of criticism domestically. This is a president who happily apologises for his country’s past when he travels abroad, in thoroughly humiliating fashion for the United States, but cannot bring himself to acknowledge that his own policies might be wrong.
That’s exactly right. And he makes it clear he’s not going to take a leadership role – like a petulant child, he’ll just refuse to deal with others. Fred Barnes points out the obvious:
Presidents have two roles. In the current impasse, Mr. Obama emphasizes his partisan role as leader of the Democratic Party. It’s a legitimate role. But as president, he’s the only national leader elected by the entire nation. He alone represents all the people. And this second, nonpartisan role takes precedence in times of trouble, division or dangerous stalemate. A president is expected to take command. Mr. Obama hasn’t done that.
The extent to which he has abdicated this role shows up in his speeches. On the eve of the shutdown, he warned that a government closure “will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away.” Defunding or delaying his health-care program—the goal of Republicans—would have even worse consequences, he suggested. “Tens of thousands of Americans die every single year because they don’t have access to affordable health care,” Mr. Obama said.
In an appearance in the White House pressroom, he said that “military personnel—including those risking their lives overseas for us right now—will not get paid on time” should Republicans force a shutdown. At an appearance in Largo, Md., the president accused Republicans of “threatening steps that would actually badly hurt our economy . . . Even if you believe that ObamaCare somehow was going to hurt the economy, it won’t hurt the economy as bad as a government shutdown.”
Yet as he was predicting widespread suffering, Mr. Obama steadfastly refused to negotiate with Republicans. He told House Speaker John Boehner in a phone call that he wouldn’t be talking to him anymore. With the shutdown hours away, he called Mr. Boehner again. He still didn’t negotiate and said he wouldn’t on the debt limit either.
Mr. Obama has made Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid his surrogate in the conflict with Republicans. Mr. Reid has also declined to negotiate. In fact, Politico reported that when the president considered meeting with Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell, along with the two Democratic congressional leaders, Mr. Reid said he wouldn’t attend and urged Mr. Obama to abandon the idea. The president did just that.
The man is a presidential bust – and I don’t mean the type that sits on a pedestal. He’s never had it, he will never have it and we’re going to continue to suffer because instead of any leadership qualities the only thing this man can boast is petty partisanship. He’s a master at that. He’s essentially said that he’ll not negotiate and he’ll use his bully pulpit to insult and degrade his opposition.
Until he steps up and assumes that role – this is his shutdown.
Apparently our laws are arbitrary if you’re in a favored group. All you have to do is appeal to the King for an exemption:
Back in 2009, when Democrats were writing the massive new national health care scheme, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley offered an amendment. Obamacare created exchanges through which millions of Americans would purchase “affordable” health coverage. Grassley’s amendment simply required lawmakers, staff, and some in the executive branch to get their insurance through the exchanges, too.
To every Republican’s amazement, Democrats accepted the amendment. It’s never been fully clear why; the best theory is they intended to take the provision out in conference committee, but couldn’t do so because they lost their filibuster-proof 60-vote majority. In any event, Obamacare — the law of the land, as supporters like to say — now requires Congress to buy its health care coverage through the exchanges.
That has caused Democratic panic as the formal arrival of Obamacare nears. Right now, all lawmakers and staff are entitled to enjoy generously-subsidized coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan. Why give up that subsidy and go on the exchanges like any average American?
But that’s the law. It could be amended, but Democrats, who voted unanimously for Obamacare, couldn’t very well expect much help from Republicans, who voted unanimously against it. So over the summer Democrats asked President Obama to simply create an Obamacare exception for Capitol Hill.
And the King, looking down upon his faithful minions waved his hand and came up with a “solution” by executive fiat that uses tax dollars to circumvent the law:
Not long after — presto! — the Office of Personnel Management unveiled a proposed rule to allow members of Congress, their staff, and some executive branch employees to continue receiving their generous federal subsidy even as they purchase coverage on the exchanges. No ordinary American would be allowed such an advantage.
However, a rebellion was cooking:
Vitter watched the maneuvering that led to the OPM decision. He began work on what became the Vitter Amendment, which he likes to call “No Washington Exemption from Obamacare,” that would reverse the OPM ruling. It specifies that members of Congress, staff, the president, vice president and all the administration’s political appointees buy health coverage through Obamacare exchanges. If any of them earn incomes low enough to qualify for regular Obamacare subsidies, they will receive them — just like any other American. But those with higher incomes will have to pay for their coverage on the exchanges — just like everybody else.
Vitter hasn’t exactly thrilled his colleagues. “There has been a lot of pushback behind the scenes, including from many Republicans,” he says. Political types have complained that the requirement will cause “brain drain” on the Hill as staffers escape the burden of paying for their own coverage. “My response is, first of all, it’s the law,” says Vitter. “Look, this is a disruption. It’s exactly what’s happening across America, to people who are going to the exchanges against their will. To me, that’s the point.”
Ron Johnson, the Republican senator from Wisconsin, is one colleague delighted by Vitter’s move. The idea of equal Obamacare treatment for Washington is enormously popular around the country, Johnson points out, which means even lawmakers who don’t like it will be afraid to oppose it.
“I think most members don’t want to vote to reject the OPM ruling,” Johnson says. “But I think most members would vote to do that, if they were forced to, because it is so politically unpopular to have special treatment for members of Congress and their staff.”
Seems it should be unnecessary to again make it clear that Congress should have to obey the law – to the letter – just like everyone else. That was what the original law said, no? Yet they managed a workaround that defeated the intent of the law, didn’t they?
So now another amendment is now necessary?
And here I thought that these folks were servants of the people and not a ruling elite (by the way, the big excuse is there’ll be a huge “brain drain” if the law is left in place. Let me be the first to say, given the shape our country and government are in at the moment, I’d welcome the ‘brain drain’).
Make ‘em obey the law. Make them navigate the same atrocity they foisted on the public. No exemptions, no exceptions. And that goes for every law they pass.
While I took issue with John McCain’s refusal to do anything about defunding ObamaCare, my issue was with the refusal more than anything. McCain had no alternative. He just refused to do anything.
There is an alternative however. And Daniel Henninger, in today’s Wall Street Journal, articulates it:
As its Oct. 1 implementation date arrives, ObamaCare is the biggest bet that American liberalism has made in 80 years on its foundational beliefs. This thing called “ObamaCare” carries on its back all the justifications, hopes and dreams of the entitlement state. The chance is at hand to let its political underpinnings collapse, perhaps permanently.
If ObamaCare fails, or seriously falters, the entitlement state will suffer a historic loss of credibility with the American people. It will finally be vulnerable to challenge and fundamental change. But no mere congressional vote can achieve that. Only the American people can kill ObamaCare.
No matter what Sen. Ted Cruz and his allies do, ObamaCare won’t die. It would return another day in some other incarnation. The Democrats would argue, rightly, that the ideas inside ObamaCare weren’t defeated. What the Democrats would lose is a vote in Congress, nothing more.
He’s right. Defunding it simply leaves the question “would it have worked if you inbred Republicans hadn’t stopped it? All indications are this abomination will collapse under it’s own fetid weight. Why? Because, as I said, it’s an abomination.
Consider this from Megan McArdle:
During the design and passage of the Affordable Care Act, its architects and supporters described a fantastic new system for buying insurance. You would go onto a website and enter some simple information about yourself. The computer system would fetch data about you from various places — it would verify income with the Internal Revenue Service, check with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that you were a citizen or legal resident, and tap a database of employer coverage to make sure that you were not already being offered affordable coverage (defined as 9.5 percent of your income or less) by your employer. Provided you passed all those tests, it would calculate what subsidies you were eligible for, and then apply that discount automatically to the hundreds of possible policies being offered on the exchange. You would see the neatly listed prices and choose one, buying it as easily as you buy an airline ticket on Travelocity.
Before I went to business school, I used to work in an IT consultancy, and setting up this system sounded like an enormous job to me — a five- to eight-year job, given government procurement rules, not a three-year rush special. But Obamacare’s stewards seemed very confident, so I assumed that they must have it covered.
As time wore on, the administration has steadily stripped major components out of the exchanges and the data hub behind them as it became clear that they couldn’t possibly make the Oct. 1 deadline when all of this was supposed to be ready. The employer mandate was delayed, and then it was announced that at least some of the exchanges would be relying on self-reporting of income, rather than verifying with the IRS. . . .
How did we get to this point? The exchanges were the core selling point of Obamacare. (The Medicaid expansion was actually a bigger part of the coverage expansion, at least until the Supreme Court ruled that the administration couldn’t force states to take part, but it tended to be downplayed, because no one’s exactly a huge fan of Medicaid.) They were going to introduce competition to a fragmented and distorted marketplace, and make it easy for middle-class people to buy affordable coverage from a bevy of insurers. How can it be that one week before the deadline for opening, no one’s really sure the exchanges are going to work?
No exchanges, no ObamaCare.
Oh, and be amazed by the usual government planning:
I work for one of the largest Telecom providers in the country. I’m an engineer who designs dedicated data links (DS3s, OC3s, etc…) for major companies across the US.
For background, some of these circuits can be put up fairly quickly, but not the ones that I work on. The ones I design can take up to 90 business days to install.
Anyways, a few weeks ago, we got deluged with orders for circuits that needed to be installed by October 1st. These were circuits to support Obamacare.
Needless to say, they aren’t going to make that deadline. Some of the circuits are being held up due to construction builds that won’t be complete until the end of November. The others won’t make the deadline due to the complexity and the number of various companies involved.
Yes, these are the same people you handed your health care too.
Soooo … what will the administration do? Well, delay it of course. But again I point you to McArdle’s point. We’re not simply talking about a simple IT project here. It may never work.
Henninger’s point is very valid. So I officially sanction Dale’s point of view in this case and say “let ‘em have it (good and hard)”. Let them have the bureaucracy, frustration, increased cost and incompetence that has been the hallmark of the Democrats and this administration. Then:
An established political idea is like a vampire. Facts, opinions, votes, garlic: Nothing can make it die.
But there is one thing that can kill an established political idea. It will die if the public that embraced it abandons it.
Six months ago, that didn’t seem likely. Now it does.
The public’s dislike of ObamaCare isn’t growing with every new poll for reasons of philosophical attachment to notions of liberty and choice. Fear of ObamaCare is growing because a cascade of news suggests that ObamaCare is an impending catastrophe.
And catastrophe it is. Let is burn. Let it crash, burn and kill this nonsense once and for all.
There are among politicians, certain ones who think you’ll believe this:
“Now, this debt ceiling — I just want to remind people in case you haven’t been keeping up – raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress. It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.”
Obama went on to suggest that “the average person” mistakenly thinks that raising the debt ceiling means the U.S. is racking up more debt: “It’s always a tough vote because the average person thinks raising the debt ceiling must mean that we’re running up our debt, so people don’t like to vote on it, and, typically, there’s some gamesmanship in terms of making the President’s party shoulder the burden of raising the — taking the vote.”
First – what is it called?
Oh, a debt ceiling.
Anyone – what is the purpose of raising the debt ceiling?
To allow more debt.
If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, then the government can’t do what?
Increase our debt. Correct?
They can’t borrow (commonly known as going into debt) more money to pay those “bills” they’ve already “racked up”, can they?
So when “the average person” thinks that raising the debt ceiling means”running up more debt“, they’re absolutely dead-on right. Unless you plan on “running up more debt“, there is no reason to raise the debt ceiling, is there?
It’s called a “debt ceiling” for a reason.
I think Marc Thiessen pens a fairly succinct one in today’s Washington Post:
We’re conducting foreign policy by faux pas. This entire episode has been driven not by deliberate strategy but by slips of the tongue. Obama’s declaration of a “red line” on chemical weapons was a slip of the tongue. So was Secretary of State John Kerry’s offer to have Syria give up its chemical weapons. There is no plan, no coherence to anything this administration is doing on Syria.
More embarrassing still, Obama is actually claiming that the diplomatic “breakthrough” is the result of his administration’s show of strength.
Was it a show of strength when Obama went to the world’s nations and asked them to join him in enforcing “their” red line — finding only one country (France) ready to do so? Or when the British parliament rejected military action for the first time since the 1700s? Or when a U.S. official told the Los Angeles Times that any U.S. strike would be “just muscular enough not to get mocked”? Or when Kerry declared that any strike would be “unbelievably small” and would not really constitute “war”? Or when Obama used his prime-time, nationally televised address to call on Congress to do . . . nothing?
That’s not a show of strength. That’s an embarrassment.
Foreign policy by faux pas. You have to cringe at that one. But it is certainly the truth.
The idea that this sequence of events led Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to cower and agree to hand over his chemical weapons is laughable. Russia and Syria are playing us. And the administration, which was about to lose a vote in Congress, latched on to this diplomatic “solution” to save face.
It’s supposed to be the president of the United States who gives a dictator a face-saving way out, not the other way around. The sad fact is Obama needed this way out more than Assad.
To claim otherwise is simply laughable. And, added into all of this, it gave Assad room to do whatever it is he thinks he needs to do (not to mention legitimacy as Syria’s leader) and a chance to add his own condition to the mix – that the US stop supplying the rebels with arms. Watch for that to come into play at some point in the “negotiations”.
As the Wall Street Journal says when describing the debacle:
Through mixed messages, miscalculations and an 11th-hour break, the U.S. stumbled into an international crisis and then stumbled out of it. A president who made a goal of reducing the U.S.’s role as global cop lurched from the brink of launching strikes to seeking congressional approval to embracing a deal with his biggest international adversary on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And here we are. The clown car remains full and, unfortunately, will be leading the circus for the next 3 plus years. Hold on to your hats (and wallets).
P.S. and no we won’t be saying anything about the shootings, er “workplace violence”, at the Navy Yard in DC until a whole lot more information comes in.
Michael Gerson, writing in the Washington Post, absolutely nails the magnitude of the debacle the Obama administration has suffered and the reason:
Sometimes a president does not have a communications problem. Sometimes a president has a reality problem.
President Obama’s speech to the nation on Syria was premised on the denial of reality. He claimed that the Russian/Syrian initiative resulted from the “credible threat of U.S. military action.” In fact, it filled a vacuum of presidential credibility. Obama had been isolated within the G-20 and abandoned by our closest ally, Britain. Americans overwhelmingly disapproved of a military strike for which the president clearly had no stomach. Obama was on the verge of the most devastating congressional foreign policy repudiation since the Senate voted 49-35 against entering the League of Nations in 1920.
This president’s biggest problem, other than a total lack of leadership ability, has been reality all along. He’s always believed he simply has to speak and others will follow. Yet, in reality he’s done precisely what Gerson claims he’s done – isolate himself and the US. He has no close relationships internationally. Our closest ally in everything we’ve done for centuries has abandoned us. His credibility in the Middle East is hovering close to zero. His “reset” policy with Russia has been a disaster. And he remains reactive and indecisive at place in history that calls for decisiveness and leadership. Consequently another nation is moving to take that lead he’s abandoned.
Vladimir Putin offered Obama an escape, which he gratefully took. But there are implicit costs. A U.S. military strike — something Putin thought inevitable just a few weeks ago — is off. Russia’s Syrian client, Bashar al-Assad, stays in power. The Syrian opposition is effectively hung out to dry. Russia gains a position of influence in the Middle East it has not held since Anwar Sadat threw the Soviets out of Egypt. This allows Moscow to supply proxies such as Syria and Iran with weapons while positioning itself as the defender of international law and peace. Iran sees that the United States is a reluctant power, with a timid and polarized legislature, that can easily be deflected from action by transparent maneuvers.
Other than this, ’twas a famous victory.
Speaking of credibility, to watch the spin-meisters attempt to call this a “famous victory” shreds what little they may still enjoy. No one grounded in reality and at all concerned with their credibility would declare this any sort of a ‘victory’ for the US.
But hey we had a speech …
The resulting message was boldly mixed. Assad is a moral monster — who is now our partner in negotiations. The consequences would be terrible “if we fail to act” — which now seems the most likely course. America “doesn’t do pinpricks” — especially when it does not do anything. “The burdens of leadership are often heavy” — unless they are not assumed.
And here we are. A shrunken giant, leaderless and adrift. “Led” by an incompetent with coming negotiations headed by another incompetent (Kerry), both of whom have been badly played by the Russians and the Syrians. There’s no reason to believe they won’t come out on the short end of this deal either.
As for the planned, then unplanned, then delayed, then put on indefinite hold strike that Kerry claims is the reason Syria came to the table – Charles Krauthammer lays that out for you:
That “strike Syria, maybe” speech begins with a heart-rending account of children consigned to a terrible death by a monster dropping poison gas. It proceeds to explain why such behavior must be punished. It culminates with the argument that the proper response — the most effective way to uphold fundamental norms, indeed human decency — is a flea bite: something “limited,” “targeted” or, as so memorably described by Secretary of State John Kerry, “unbelievably small.”
“Unbelievably small”. Likely had ‘em shaking in their boots in Damascus.
Krauthammer also sums up the “deal” Obama et. al. are now trying to claim was their idea all along (not that anyone but the most gullible or partisan or both are buying that):
The hinge of the entire Russian strategy is saving the Assad regime. That’s the very purpose of the “Russian proposal.” Imagine that some supposed arms-control protocol is worked out. The inspectors have to be vetted by Assad, protected by Assad, convoyed by Assad, directed by Assad to every destination. Negotiation, inspection, identification, accounting, transport and safety would require constant cooperation with the regime, and thus acknowledgment of its sovereignty and legitimacy.
So much for Obama’s repeated insistence that Assad must go. Indeed, Putin has openly demandedthat any negotiation be conditioned on a U.S. commitment to forswear the use of force against Assad. On Thursday, Assad repeated that demand, warning that without an American pledge not to attack and not to arm the rebels, his government would agree to nothing.
This would abolish the very possibility of America tilting the order of battle in a Syrian war that Assad is now winning thanks to Russian arms, Iranian advisers and Lebanese Hezbollah shock troops. Putin thus assures the survival of his Syrian client and the continued ascendancy of the anti-Western Iranian bloc.
And what does America get? Obama saves face.
Indeed … some deal.
All of that said, it may end up being the “best” deal we could hope for given the ineptness and incompetence of this administration. Back to Gerson:
I am relieved that President Obama was given a reprieve from a devastating rejection by Congress, which would have wounded the presidency itself. We should hope (against hope) that a negotiation with Putin, Assad and the U.N. Security Council to establish international control of the world’s third-largest chemical weapons stockpile in the middle of a civil war is successful. And Congress should seek ways to strengthen Obama’s hand in negotiations.
But this remains a sad moment for the United States. We have seen a Putin power play, based on a Kerry gaffe, leading to a face-saving presidential retreat — and this was apparently the best of the available options.
Pretty bad when this is the best outcome one could hope for … a degree of face saving for a less that satisfactory president who still doesn’t realize how badly he was bested.
Well you’ve all seen the Putin op-ed in the NY Times so I’m not going to spend too much time on it other than to say it is another indicator of the lack of respect the President of the United States has internationally. I can’t imagine Putin trying this with any other president. This is just “in your face” stuff from the Russian president. On the other side of that, I can’t imagine an op-ed like that ever being given the okay in Pravda or any like publication.
But it is another among many indicators of how outclassed and how outplayed the administration has been in this foreign policy mess of their own making.
That said, it’s time to look at the status and likely progress on the quest to bring Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.
Secretary of State John Kerry headed late Wednesday to Geneva with a team of arms control experts for intensive talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, to try to reach an agreement on how to secure and ultimately destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.
Mr. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, was taking his own arms control experts to the negotiations, holding out the possibility that there would be depth and detail to the talks. But sharp divisions remained between the two powers less than 24 hours after President Obama said he would hold off on an American military strike on Syria and gave a qualified endorsement to a Russian proposal for international monitors to take over the country’s chemical arsenal.
“Sharp divisions” is diplo-speak for “we’re miles and miles and miles apart – don’t expect any agreement anytime soon.”
Or as we said the other day, “Syria has all the time in the world to do whatever it wishes to do.”
American officials said the Syria debate would now unfold largely in Geneva, where the United States wants the talks to focus not only on Syria’s chemical weapons but also on securing munitions like bombs or warheads that are designed for chemical attacks. The officials acknowledged that securing the delivery systems for attacks goes far beyond what Mr. Lavrov has offered or is likely to agree to in Geneva this week.
Adding to the complexity of the diplomatic task is the reality that even if a deal is reached, it would take a year or more to destroy Syria’s chemical stores. One estimate by Pentagon officials determined that Mr. Assad has 1,400 tons of sarin, VX and mustard agents, and that it would take at least 200 to 300 days to take control of the weapons and, short of destruction, to make them unusable.
A lot can be hidden in “200 to 300″ days, can’t they. And, talks can easily stall, be delayed, be postponed, be suspended, etc., all while Russia plays hardball to our T-ball.
With Putin’s op-ed and Russia leading on the Syria debacle, while the administration plays defense, you’re seeing a leadership shift right before your eyes. Barack Obama has all but ceded the superpower role the US has enjoyed … he’s squandered it with is inept handling of foreign affairs, his abject lack of leadership and his inability to attract any support for his policies.
I’m pining for Jimmy Carter for heaven sake.