President Barack Obama: Confounding liberals on Syria. Photo: (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
That sound you just heard is a whole warren of bleeding hearts exsanguinating. Every relationship hits a rough patch, but the bond between President Obama and a certain breed of liberal intellectuals — think pragmatic, explanatory, unsure of all the answers themselves — has been unbreakable. Sure, these analysts have criticized Obama in the past, but it was in the spirit of good-natured and helpful chiding. And their assistance in explaining Obama's health care plan better than he could was invaluable in convincing some Democrats to support it. In the wake of the Syria...whatchamacalit, though, Obama's sober pundit allies are having a conniption. Many simply cannot believe what they are hearing. Others think that Obama's words and actions can be blamed on that one character flaw that has occasionally manifested itself in the past but always temporarily and non-consequentially. What that flaw is, of course, is not universally agreed upon. All the pundits below have been generally supportive of President Obama's foreign policy.
1. Time's Joe Klein finds one of the "most stunning and inexplicable displays of presidential incompetence I've ever witnessed." The reason: He relies on his own judgment too much.
2. The New Republic's Noam Scheiber thinks Obama is simply trying to do what his own policy and moral compass insists is not possible.
3. The Guardian's Michael Cohen says Obama is being disingenuous.
Tough stuff. On the other hand, the president's traditional liberal critics are waking up to a whole new president, one they can live with. And Andrew Sullivan, a man who understands what Obama is trying to do as well as anyone in the West Wing, a man who found Obama's threat of military action against Syria to be a "betrayal," found the speech Tuesday night to be "clear, simple and moving."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- Why Israel can no longer let the Palestinian Authority be responsible for security in the West Bank
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- How social conservatives became a minority in need of protection
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- 10 things you need to know today: July 25, 2014
Subscribe to the Week