The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

President Punchline: Are Obama’s Top Advisors Late-Night TV Joke Writers?

Posted on | August 31, 2013 | 39 Comments

“Obama: Anatomy of a World Leader,” by Alex Gray (detail)

Could he possibly look more ineffective if he tried? A year ago, after the Syrian civil war had already been going on for about 14 months, Obama declared that the Assad regime would cross a “red line” if it used chemical weapons against the opposition. By the end of April this year, there was already pretty clear evidence that chemical weapons had been used; in June, U.S. officials said chemical weapons had been used, and by early August, the Syrian opposition supplied video that appeared to confirm a chemical weapons attack.

And . . . nothing.

Nothing but a lot of noise and indecisive hand-wringing.

Let me be clear: I’m against U.S. intervention in Syria. As bad as Assad is, there are indications that the opposition is not much better.

If the U.S. had intervened early, maybe there could have been a chance of bringing to power a more-or-less secular, more-or-less pro-American coalition in Syria.

Now? The place is reportedly crawling with 10,000 foreign jihadis, key groups within the opposition have clear ties to al-Qaeda, and there’s little reason to expect that Assad’s ouster will do anything but turn Syria into a dangerously violent radical Islamic terror state. It’s a bad situation, and American intervention would probably only make it worse.

Still, the worst possible thing you can do in either  foreign policy or poker is to be exposed as a bluffer, and right now Obama’s looking like that idiot who raised pre-flop with a pair of 7’s.

Never threaten war if you’re not ready to fight, and once the British Parliament voted against attacking Syria, Obama was stuck with his pair of 7’s. OK, so he reverted to campaign mode: Says he’s going to wait for congressional authorization — which he knows damned well he won’t get — after which he will then blame Republicans as “obstructionists,” even though Democrats don’t want this war, either.

He’s a great bullshit artist, but he has never been anything more.

John Kerry will do all five Sunday shows. Kerry is not even an adequate bullshit artist. This should be amusing.



  • Kyle Becker

    Kudos for the heads up on Kerry, among other things.

  • Darth Chipmunk

    It’s only ineffective when it’s Bush the warmonger. When it’s Obama the lightbringer, we call it “Thoughtful pause of the God Emperor.”

  • JeffS

    The current top presidential advisors merely aspire to be late-night TV joke writers. Until then, they have to live with Obama.

  • Kirby McCain

    As long as the bad guys are busy in Syria I say leave it alone.

  • smitty

    #OccupyResoluteDesk has to pickle off a few TLAMs to maintain control of the news cycle as Congress comes back.
    Benghanzi, IRS, ObamaCare, Debt ceiling, Amnesty: those are just the top 5 bombs going off for him.
    One is nearly moved to pity, down around the left ankle. Wait, that’s an insect bite.

  • Katie Scarlet

    Good thing I have my flip-flops from the 2004 convention handy for the full Ginsburg tomorrow. Reporting for duty at 8AM for the fun and games.

  • Good Stuff

    just read a good comment – Obama has realized that he can’t back up his stupid casual threat about Syria crossing a “red line.” If allies had joined, he would have acted without consulting Congress. With no support, and as telegraphing a weak response turned out to be a lead balloon, he now needs a way not to look stupid backing down. So suddenly, “Congress needs to be consulted.” Congress will say no. Obama still gets to beat his chest about how he “wanted to take on Assad,” but can lament how Congress “held him back.” Just watch.

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  • rmnixondeceased

    If so, they are highly overpaid.

  • Katie Scarlet

    Yep. This is whole thing is so disingenuous of him. I don’t think we should do it, but I hope Congress puts it right back in his lap.

  • Hanzo

    Could he possibly look more ineffective if he tried? Uhh … errr …well … uhmm …. hmmm … no.

  • Ukelele_Ike

    Intervene in Syria, soon or late, now or never, last year or next year, makes no difference. The probability of “… bringing to power a more-or-less secular, more-or-less pro-American coalition in Syria …” is zero or less no matter when, who, what, where or how. All sides hate America as a matter of course; the leadership of all sides would lie as smooth as you please and after we provide them arms aid etc, bingo, they install the government they want. Let them rot. Never, never, never intervene in any fighting when all the parties to it are our enemies. Let them kill each other. If you absolutely insist on doing something that at least seems to be in the best interest of the U.S., sell all the factions ammo for their weapons. Contrary to the idiotic doctrines and theories of multiculturalists, none of the rest of the people in the world are just like us only with a different religion and different faces and different languages. Most of the people in charge of other nations don’t like the U.S. and some of them hate the U.S. (Of course, we have some of those in our own national government, but that’s another rant.) Read history: nobody likes a buttinsky!! Especially if they’re American and have a “know-it-all” attitude. Let them die.

  • Ryan

    This may be the moment and issue when Obama officially jumps the shark. At this point, Jimmy Carter looks golden.

  • jakee308

    “bringing to power a more-or-less secular, more-or-less pro-American coalition in Syria”

    Ah. You’re assuming that the State Dept., DC, The White House, Obama et al thinks that’s a good idea.

    That’s just not what Hussein is after.

    Haven’t we seen enough to understand what the President and his policies are aiming for? The destruction of any hint of moderate or secular Muslims retaining, sustaining or attaining power.

  • JeffS

    What, Zero spent all this time just practicing?

  • Nathan

    As a professional poker player, I object to the comparison of the president’s strategy to raising 7-7 preflop.
    Such a raise is often strategically sound and intellectually defensible. Sometimes the math and logic dictate that it’s your best possible play.
    No one would say that about O’s foreign policy.

  • Adobe_Walls

    Obama’s meaning has been entirely miss-construed.

    You silly Wingnuts need to get a life and give up on this
    obsession with Dear Leader’s red line. When he said that if Assad crossed that
    red line that would change the calculus, he wasn’t talking about a theoretical
    red line similar to the proverbial but equally theoretical “line in the sand”.
    Obama was referring to the Red Line in Washington DC. Just so we’re clear, and
    make no mistake: IF Assad boards the Orange Line and while riding it crosses
    the Red Line at Metro Center and then uses chemical weapons well THEN there’ll
    big, big trouble.

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  • Becca Lower

    That deserves an “up-twinkles”!

  • RichFader

    I still maintain that Teh Awesome thought he was hiring the Jon Favreau that wrote “Swingers”, and when he found out otherwise, he kept the guy on anyway because, of course, Teh Awesome never makes mistakes.

  • Bob Belvedere

    I missed you, man.