Obama explained that he didn't set a red line, he merely articulated the existence of a red line created by international norms and treaties. Furthermore, he explained, it is not his credibility at issue - it is the credibility of the international organizations and the US Congress (which approved these treaties banning chemical weapons) which is at stake. Uh huh. And if there are intruders in my house I'll call the state legislature because they are the ones who made burglary and home invasion illegal. Why bother with an Executive Branch?
As the First Physicist might say with a nod to de Broglie and Schrödinger, the buck stops everywhere. Yike. Having a President who doesn't want the power or responsibility of the office is a bit unnerving.
TO RECAP: Our Nobel Laureate and Greatest Orator in the History of the Spoken Word can't do anything domestically because of intransigent Republican troglodytes. He can't do anything with the UN because of intransigent Russian troglodytes. And unlike with Libya he can't get a fig leaf from NATO or the Arab League on Syria because... hmm, the poisoned legacy of George Bush? I am losing track of the excuses.
TIMING BEING EVERYTHING... The intelligence assessments of the US, Israel, France and Britain point to repeated small scal uses of chemical weapons in Syria over the past year. And the US went public with concerns in April.
So if Obama is committed to involving Congress in this process, how is it that he only came to invite them in on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend? Well, I am belaboring the obvious - no one is pretending that this was a principled decision by Obama. This is some dreadful combinbation of political cowardice and opportunism - he is afraid to lead and hoping to spread the blame for his own failed policies.
LEST YOU DOUBT: Here is the Times coverage of the Stockholm buck-shifting:
Obama Says World Set a ‘Red Line’ on Syria
By Peter Baker
STOCKHOLM — President Obama declared on Wednesday that the confrontation with Syria over chemical weapons was not a personal test for him but for Congress, the country and the world as he worked to strengthen support at home and abroad for a punitive strike.
“I didn’t set a red line,” Mr. Obama said during a news conference here in Stockholm. “The world set a red line.”
He added, “My credibility’s not on the line. The international community’s credibility’s on the line. And America and Congress’s credibility’s on the line.”
Well, America elected this guy, so our credibility is gone easily assessed. And the Times notes a bit of a messaging muddle:
Mr. Obama’s comments here about not being the one who set a red line – a year after using the phrase – and Congress’s credibility being at stake rather than his own irritated some of his erstwhile Republican allies on the vote just hours after they agreed to support him.
To them, the comments made it look as if he were disclaiming responsibility. “If he chooses to wash his hands of this, you can surely imagine how a vote will turn out,” said a Republican leadership aide who insisted on anonymity to avoid a more overt rupture with the White House.
Well, wait - why is this coverage limited to Congressional Republicans? Does it look to Congressional Democrats as if Obama is disclaiming responsibility? Has the Times lost its Rolodex of Democrats to call for a quote? It is not as if the left sidse of the aisle is locked up in support of sending Obama to war.
MR LONELY: This is poignant, in a 'couldn't happen to a nicer (or less educable) guy' kind of way, from the same Times story:
Much like his decision to seek Congressional votes in the first place, the president’s remarks reflected an attempt to break out of his isolation when it comes to military action against Syria. Not only has Russia blocked any United Nations action, but even America’s strongest ally, Britain, has opted against participating. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 59 percent of Americans oppose the proposed missile strike.
Standing at Mr. Obama’s side, Sweden’s Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt urged waiting for a report from United Nations inspectors, who have sent samples from the scene of the attack to a Swedish laboratory, and said he preferred any action be supported by the Security Council. “But I also understand the potential consequences of letting a violation like this go unanswered,” Mr. Reinfeldt said, in a nod to Mr. Obama’s position.
No respect. Obama has been dancing away from this for months and is now surprised that no one is behind him.
INSTANT CLASSIC: "Red Red Line" from UB Kidding: