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Eleazar 08-12-2014 10:50 AM

World burns, Hill slams Obama, Obama teed off
Obama vacations as the world burns

By Dana Milbank
Washington Post
August 11 at 8:04 PM

President Obama must really be teed off.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, his once-loyal secretary of state and his likeliest successor, has gone rogue, criticizing his foreign policy as too timid.

Obama responded with not one but two rounds of golf.

Clinton, in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg published by the Atlantic over the weekend, offered a withering comment on the Obama doctrine, described in shorthand by White House officials as “don’t do stupid s---.” Said Clinton: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

As the criticism became public, Obama was doggedly sticking with his plans to go on vacation — a decision that, if not in the category of stupid stuff, could fit under the heading of “tone deafness.”

Obama stood on the South Lawn on Saturday updating Americans on the new bombing campaign in Iraq — and then he boarded Marine One for a two-week trip to Martha’s Vineyard. There, half an hour after arriving at his vacation home, he was already on his way to a golf course. He played again Sunday, then had a beach outing Monday followed by a political fundraiser.

Even presidents need down time, and Obama can handle his commander-in-chief duties wherever he is. But his decision to proceed with his getaway just 36 hours after announcing the military action in Iraq risks fueling the impression that he is detached as the world burns.

The highly visible wartime vacation (Obama allowed himself to be photographed on a putting green Saturday with NBA star Ray Allen and retired pro-football player Ahmad Rashad) was not looking any better Monday as Iraq’s political crisis worsened, NATO’s chief declared a “high probability” of Russian military intervention in Ukraine and Gaza remained on a knife edge.

By Monday afternoon, the crises had forced Obama to revise his schedule. The White House announced that the president, after returning from the beach, would make an unscheduled statement about Iraq. He freshened up at his 8,100-square-foot vacation home, then stepped outside, in a blue blazer and open collar; his aides wisely chose a wooded backdrop rather than one with the infinity pool and the sweeping water views. Obama finished his four-minute statement and then hopped in his motorcade for the ride to a Democratic fundraiser.

Such visuals probably won’t help Obama with the 60 percent of Americans who disapprove of his handling of foreign policy. Even his former secretary of state is registering her disapproval.

Clinton, in the interview, took a harder line than the administration has on Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Syria, saying she argued unsuccessfully for earlier arming and training of the Syrian opposition. “I know that the failure to help build up a credible fighting force . . . left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” she said.

She applied a bit of Clintonian triangulation to the foreign policies of Obama and George W. Bush, suggesting that there’s a just-right medium between the too-hot Bush policy and the too-cold Obama approach.

“I think part of the challenge is that our government too often has a tendency to swing between these extremes,” she said. She later added: “You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward.”

The no-confidence vote from Clinton (who, as luck would have it, also will be on Martha’s Vineyard this week) comes as Obama is smarting from criticism by hawks that the current mess in Iraq might not have occurred if he had kept U.S. troops there. “That entire analysis is bogus and is wrong,” the president said Saturday. “But it gets frequently peddled around here by folks who oftentimes are trying to defend previous policies that they themselves made.”

It’s understandable that Obama would want to get away from it all, but for a president struggling to build support for his foreign policy, vacationing during a crisis is no day at the beach.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest reminded reporters Friday that Obama was traveling to the Vineyard “with an array of communications” and advisers. But when it came time for the president to speak, there was a 20-minute delay because the TV feed didn’t work, and when he finally spoke, the audio and video quality was poor.

Obama gave an update on progress toward “the limited military objectives” against the Islamic State in Iraq, and he praised the naming of a new prime minister. But he didn’t mention that the current one, Nouri al-Maliki, is refusing to surrender power, setting up a showdown.

Criticism from Clinton. War with the Islamic State. Trouble with Maliki. It’s enough to make a man hook his drive into the sand trap.

Iowanian 08-12-2014 10:53 AM

Obama basically just said "I'm bombing Iraq, now watch this drive"

I'm sure the left will be astonished.

lawrenceRaider 08-12-2014 11:02 AM

Nation is likely better off with President Obama on vacation. It's not like he's a skilled (fill in the blank).

Eleazar 08-12-2014 11:04 AM

Barack H(ubris) Obama fumes at people who suggest he made a mistake.


Hillary Clinton and congressmen alike have called on Obama to arm Syria’s rebels.

But the president fumed at lawmakers in a private meeting for suggesting he should’ve done more.

President Obama got angry at lawmakers who suggested in a private meeting that he should have armed the Syrian rebels, calling the criticism “horseshit.”

The argument that America should have done more in Syria, made for years by foreign policy leaders in both parties and several members of Obama’s senior national security team, was brought back to the fore this past weekend. Obama and Hillary Clinton gave dueling interviews in which they publicly split on whether the security and humanitarian catastrophe in Syria could have been avoided if the United States had played a larger role. Obama’s outburst on July 31, one week prior, reveals the criticism was already getting to him, even before the White House tried to deflect Clinton’s remarks as pre-presidential political posturing.

Just before the congressional recess, President Obama invited over a dozen Senate and House leaders from both parties to the White House to talk about foreign policy.

According to two lawmakers inside the meeting, Obama became visibly agitated when confronted by bipartisan criticism of the White House’s policy of slow-rolling moderate Syrian rebels’ repeated requests for arms to fight the Assad regime and ISIS.

According to one of the lawmakers, Sen. Bob Corker asked the president a long question that included sharp criticisms of President Obama’s handling of a number of foreign policy issues—including Syria, ISIS, Russia, and Ukraine. Obama answered Corker at length. Then, the president defended his administration’s actions on Syria, saying that the notion that many have put forth regarding arming the rebels earlier would have led to better outcomes in Syria was “horseshit.”

White House officials confirmed the charged exchange between Obama and Corker but declined to confirm that Obama used the expletive. The interaction between Obama and Corker was a tense moment in the otherwise uneventful meeting.

Corker’s office declined to comment for this story. But days after the White House meeting, Corker wrote a blistering op-ed for The Washington Post criticizing Obama’s handling of foreign policy. “Today, after three years of bold rhetoric divorced from reality, 170,000 Syrians are dead, and we are not innocent bystanders. The president encouraged the opposition to swallow deadly risks, then left them mostly hanging,” the senator wrote. “Extremist groups from Syria have surged into Iraq, seizing key territory and resources, and are threatening to completely undo the progress of years of U.S. sacrifice.”

Top Democratic lawmakers agreed with Corker and Clinton that doing more to support the moderate rebels would have at least had a chance of averting or mitigating the current crisis, which has now spread to large parts of Iraq as ISIS expands its newly declared Caliphate.

Rep. Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, arrived at the White House meeting after the Obama-Corker exchange. But the congressman also heard Obama defend his Syria policy, although using more polite language.

“The president still feels very strongly that we are deluding ourselves if we think American intervention in Syria early on by assisting these rebels would have made a difference,” Engel told The Daily Beast in an interview. “He still believes that. I disagree, respectfully. They were not looking for U.S. troops, they were looking for help and the Syria civil war started with the most noblest of causes.”

In a New York Times interview published Aug. 8, Obama said that the idea arming the rebels would have made a difference had “always been a fantasy.”

“This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards,” Obama said.

Clinton told The Atlantic in an interview published Aug. 10 that Obama’s “failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.”

In 2012, Clinton revealed that she and then-CIA Director David Petraeus had pushed a plan earlier that year to arm the Syrian rebels that was rejected by the White House. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey later said they supported the plan at that time. Many lawmakers, including Corker and Engel, still support that plan and they agree with Clinton that Obama’s policy left a vacuum that ISIS rushed to fill.

“[ISIS’s threat in Iraq] is definitely tied to Syria because when the uprising started against Bashar al Assad, it was a movement of people wanting freedom and democracy in Syria, it wasn’t a war involving jihadism at all,” Engel said. “They desperately needed our help, which we didn’t supply, and as a result ISIS got the upper hand. We are now paying the price of that.”

Not all lawmakers support arming the rebels; Sen. Rand Paul, for example, is on the record opposing the use of U.S. military resources to fight ISIS in Iraq or Syria. Also, Clinton and many lawmakers acknowledge that arming the rebels was risky and might not have worked. The weapons could’ve fallen into the extremists’ hands, and Syria might have remained a jihadist free-for-all.

“Well, I did believe, which is why I advocated this, that if we were to carefully vet, train, and equip early on a core group of the developing Free Syrian Army, we would, number one, have some better insight into what was going on on the ground,” Clinton said.

alpha_omega 08-12-2014 11:18 AM

It really is a "Blood Feud"

Eleazar 08-12-2014 11:21 AM


Originally Posted by alpha_omega (Post 10813060)
It really is a "Blood Feud"

But.... Jay Cosmo told me that book was BS... fanfiction for RWNJs... :p

Detoxing 08-12-2014 11:58 AM

I always thought the Golfing thing was funny. Every president i can remember has played golf at some point during his term. And the media has always blasted that president for it.


They all played golf and they all had the, "OMG why are you playing golf, you have more important things to do" outrage.

Donger 08-12-2014 12:06 PM

Fairplay 08-12-2014 12:12 PM

Obama deserves a big :facepalm: and a standing :moon:

Detoxing 08-12-2014 12:13 PM


Originally Posted by Fairplay (Post 10813189)
Obama deserves a big :facepalm: and a standing :moon:

Were you this upset when Bush was golfing? Or Clinton?

Fairplay 08-12-2014 12:15 PM


Originally Posted by Donger (Post 10813181)

That's a big 'ol whopper of a lie.

fan4ever 08-12-2014 12:21 PM


Originally Posted by Fairplay (Post 10813196)
That's a big 'ol whopper of a lie.

How do you categorize that? I mean he's had so many.

Donger 08-12-2014 12:28 PM


Originally Posted by Detoxing (Post 10813193)
Were you this upset when Bush was golfing? Or Clinton?

Not that it really matters, but Bush gave up golf during his presidency.

Old Sport 08-12-2014 12:31 PM

I wonder how Obongo feels over the last six years always being the least qualified person in every room he enters.

Detoxing 08-12-2014 12:33 PM


Originally Posted by Donger (Post 10813205)
Not that it really matters, but Bush gave up golf during his presidency.

He did. After being ridiculed for playing golf during his presidency.

My point is, this isn't something limited to Obama. I watched the same exact shit happen when Bush was president.

I'd imagine the next president will be ridiculed for the same exact thing, though im curious to see who'll be "outraged" by it.

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