The one requisite in a presidential speech is honesty. Without it, nothing else matters. The president’s speech last night was incoherent in its call to be ready at some future day to use force that he just recently insisted must be used immediately. But more disturbing, aside from the true nature of the Putin gambit, Obama simply did not tell the truth about the role of Congress in his self-created debacle. In fact, not long ago, Obama said that he did not “believe it was right . . . to take this debate to Congress.” In truth, he was forced to, after resisting such a move, because public opinion was not in his favor. Or, in the words of his own cynical political guru, David Axelrod, he wished the congressional dog to catch the car and share some responsibility for the self-induced mess. Moreover, last decade was not characterized by a president who engaged in “sidelining the people’s representatives from the critical decisions about when we use force.” In truth, George W. Bush obtained authorizations from both Houses of Congress before using force in both Afghanistan and Iraq. In contrast, Barack Obama bypassed Congress — but not the Arab League — in bombing Libya. Nor did the president simply ask the leaders of Congress to postpone the vote. Congressional officials came to him, hence last night’s address, to warn him that, in a historical first, he would be rebuffed by both houses of Congress. As in the case of the Libyan bombing, Obama initially sought to bypass Congress, could not given sinking public opinion, reversed course and went to Congress, then was faced with a rebuke, and finally ended up doing nothing. This leaves the country with the precedent of a president going to Congress when desperate, then announcing that he will not necessarily abide by the vote should it be negative, and then postponing a vote that he knows will be negative — taking the country in a futile 360-degree path back to where he started. Again, Obama warns about those who bypass Congress and leave a mess after taking out dictators — with no mention that he alone in the last decade has done both. Finally, there were the usual Obama-speech bullet points that ensure it is a presidential speech: The tired usual emphatics? Check: “Let me make something clear.” Straw men on the edges with sober and judicious Obama in the middle? Check: “friends on the right” and “friends on the left.” First person overload? Check: “especially me,” “my judgment,” “I determined,” “I possess,” “I’m also,” etc. Bush did it? Check: “. . . after a decade that put more and more war making power in the hands of the president.” Iraq ad nauseam? Check: “we learned from Iraq,” “an open-ended action like Iraq,” “terrible toll of Iraq and Afghanistan,” “our troops are out of Iraq,” etc. Growing the (now shrinking) middle class? Check: “growing our middle class.”
Americans are aware of public education's many failures—the elevated high-school dropout rates, the need for remedial work among entering college students. One metric in particular stands out: Only 32% of U.S.
The case Barack Obama made to the nation, to the world, last night to build support for his policy on Syria was remarkably -- alarmingly -- flabby. Unserious. Early polling suggests the man who considers himself a better speechwriter than his speechwriters and a better policy analyst than his policy analysts proved himself neither. Even his supporters in Congress sound relieved at not having to support him. The main problem with the president's speech -- with his policy, as well -- is that the sweeping claims he makes of the importance of the issue don't match either his policy in the past two years or the means he proposes. President Obama spoke movingly about little children killed by Bashar al-Assad's regime, but he proposes to do nothing about the tens of thousands of Syrian children killed by their government with conventional weapons. President Assad's forces used chemical weapons 13 times before the Aug. 21 incident, but none of those affronts to the international norm that the president insists must be upheld precipitated a change in his policy. Obama insisted we have a moral responsibility to take action, while insisting we will not get involved in the conflict. He will need to reconcile these contradictions in order to build support for military action. The most jarring part of the president's address to the nation was his dangerous assertions about war. He seems genuinely not to understand the logic of conflict. It was deeply unsettling to hear his braggadocio that "the United States military doesn't do pinpricks" when that's exactly what he's proposing.
CNBC's Rick Santelli and Ed Lazear, Hoover Institution senior fellow talk about the distinction between the nations's financial failure five years ago and the following recession and recover. Lazear also provides an insider's view of what was going on behind the scenes during the financial crisis.
An analysis of campaign contributions to the Bay Area delegation shows that support for taking military action against Syria, a position backed by pro-Israel advocates in the United States, does not correlate with the amount of campaign contributions Bay Area House members received from the lobby in the 2011-12 election cycle. House membersWhile House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, a strong voice backing President Obama's position to take military action, received far more in campaign contributions from pro-Israel groups than the national average for House members in the last House election cycle, and so did Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove (Sacramento County), who strongly opposes attacking Syria. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California, both of whom support taking military action against Syria, received far more than the average contribution collected by their Senate colleagues from pro-Israel organizations from Jan. 1, 2007 to Dec. 31, 2012, a six-year Senate term, according to an analysis done for The Chronicle by Maplight, a nonpartisan organization that analyzes the effect of money on politics. A collection of political action committees whose primary purpose was to support Israel economically and in negotiations with neighboring Arab countries contributed $10 million to members of Congress in the 2011-12 campaign cycle, with nearly two-thirds going to Democrats. Suggesting solutionsKori Schake, who served on the National Security Council for George W. Bush and as a foreign policy adviser for GOP Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, described the lobby as extremely well-versed on U.S. policy - and adroit in suggesting possible solutions.