On Syria, Words DO matter, and Presidential words matter most

September 4, 2013

Image: www.conservativewatchnews.com

October 22, 1962: President John F. Kennedy addresses the nation on Russian missiles being found in Cuba as “a deliberately provocative and unjustified change in the status quo which cannot be accepted by this country”

March 8th, 1983: President Ronald Reagan, calls out the Soviet Union as the “evil empire” and four years later, standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate addresses then Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev with “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”.

September 20th, 2001: President George W. Bush, addressing a Joint Session of Congress following the 9/11 attacks laid out: “These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act, and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate.”

August 20, 2012: during a White House news conference, President Barack Obama comments on the Syrian civil war with: “…that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus,”

Four Presidents, a half century of history, two Republican, two Democrat, yet, only one stands alone. Yes, it’s Barack Obama no, it’s not the color of his skin and no, it’s not good.

When Anderson Cooper asked then candidate Barack Obama in September, 2008 to respond to criticism that he didn’t have the executive experience to be President, Obama used his position atop his massive political campaign and “legislation I’ve passed” dealing with emergency management as evidence of his Presidential qualifications.

In any other election cycle such a weak resume would have been more than enough chum in the water to circle the media. (Ordering around campaign minions is hardly comparable to the White House and not one Senator has ever singularly passed legislation.)

But 2008 was no normal election cycle, and Barack Obama was no ordinary candidate.

After bursting onto the national stage at the 2004 Democratic National Convention words of “smart”, “cool”, “sophisticated”, had already attached to Mr. Obama and there was no way one episode of emptiness was going to muddy the media narrative.

Yet Mr. Obama is full of ““non-smart” moments.

Any non-Chicago public school student knows there aren’t 57 states, the Cambridge police did not act “stupidly”, and any sixth grade English student knows the “p” in “corpsman” is silent.

And now we have the off prompter “red-line” remark that has dragged American credibility down to the level of a Presidential face saving.

Obama first called for Assad to go in August of 2011, and reiterated same in the months that followed. Yet in a June, 2012 meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Obama drops the “Assad must go” and calls for a “political process”, only to wipe that out two months later with the “red-line” comment bringing on a year of ambiguity and indecision not seen since the Carter years.

And this past weekend the world witnessed Secretary of State John Kerry’s “it matters to leadership and to our credibility in the world” call for action be undermined less than 24 hours later by the President’s sudden decision to punt to Congress.

Mr. Obama stands alone among the historical statements that opened this column not for his mastery of Presidential rhetoric but rather his ignorance of its importance. Because love us or hate us, when it comes to Presidential words, the world does listen.

If there is but one thing Mr. Obama does in his last 3 ½ years in office let us all hope it is to start choosing his words more carefully.

Else his rhetoric delivers a devastating reality.

(Publisher’s note:  The Globe managing editor is on vacation and the fill in decided to play with the print schedule.  A version of this column will appear in the Thursday, September 5th edition rather than the scheduled Wednesday edition.  Apologies for the inconvenience to the Globe followers.)


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One Response to On Syria, Words DO matter, and Presidential words matter most

  1. […] my column this week points out, Obama is completely ignorant of the impact his Presidential rhetoric has on the reality […]


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