Barack Obama's Sad Sausage-Making Foreign Policy

By Rothenberg, Stuart | Roll Call, September 10, 2013 | Go to article overview

Barack Obama's Sad Sausage-Making Foreign Policy


Rothenberg, Stuart, Roll Call


They say that the process of making sausage isn't pretty, but all that matters is how it tastes. And often, that applies to politics, as well.

The political process can be messy, with bad decisions along the way, but if the outcome is popular, the process doesn't matter at all. That's why those of us in the political analysis business often fall back on the trite -- but true -- response that the proof is in the pudding.

So, even though the Obama administration has looked confused, erratic and in way over its head on Syria, and most members of Congress have behaved like scared children, the Syrian "crisis" may yet blow over, with relatively little long-lasting effect on our politics -- or on the 2014 midterms and the 2016 presidential election.

But even if that is the case -- and it is far too early to know now -- the White House's handling of the controversy and Capitol Hill's reaction to it have been nothing short of sad.

First the president of the United States draws a red line, promising action if it is crossed. Then, when Syria crosses the line, he prepares for action, saying that absolutely, positively, a military response is necessary.

Then, at the last minute, he apparently changes his mind and figures that passing the buck to Congress to authorize military action is a good idea. But, of course, he won't say what he'll do if Congress fails to authorize action. …

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