Obama’s Dukakis moment

Another fine mess

by nkronos on March 30, 2011

“This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into,” Barack Obama may be telling Nicolas Sarkozy as he reads the latest reports from Libya:

Hundreds of rebels fled Ras Lanuf Wednesday morning as pro-Kadhafi soldiers used tanks and heavy artillery to seize the port city. Some of them called on France to bomb their opponents and called on foreign powers to send them arms….

In response to the faltering fortunes of their rebel allies, the West has to consider supplying arms to them, as this ragtag group still wields clubs and rocks against the much better supplied government forces of Qaddafi. If NATO does not step up its aid, one group willing and able to without having to do all the international consulting is Al Qaeda, which has already inserted its tentacles into the mix, and according to news today is increasing its presence.

Despite Matt Lauer’s astonishing remark that aid to Al Qaeda would prove to the terrorist organization how compassionate we are, Americans are not so stupid as to go along with a war that from the beginning has seemed no more well thought out than which golf club the President intends to use to get out of his latest sand trap. (Or his infamous NCAA bracket, picked in nine minutes of TV time during the height of the Japanese tragedy and which resulted in zero correct guesses for the Final Four, despite selecting all presumably safe number one seeds.)

As we bomb ostensibly to prevent civilian casualties, it’s hard to see how increasing the level of armaments in country will make any civilians any safer. Has the Big 0 suddenly become an extreme believer in the Second Amendment? Will he likewise support the right of American citizens to keep and possess M-16s, grenades, and bazookas in the event our own government ever becomes too tyrannical?

Perhaps it’s time he admit that, as with the Gates-Crowley affair, he jumped the ill-considered gun (i.e., cruise missile) here and call Mssrs. Sarkozy and Qaddafi together for a beer summit. Americans certainly seem to disapprove of the comedy duo thus far. Not only does Gallup say fewer and fewer Americans believe Obama to be a strong leader, but a new Quinnipiac poll evidences he has weaker support for this war at its start than any President has enjoyed. (Perhaps the better verb choice would be “suffered.”)  Ironically, Obama does worse than Qaddafi if one reads the numbers with a certain perversity:

  • Does Obama deserve re-election? No 50 percent, Yes 41 percent.
  • Should the US use force to remove Qaddafi? No 48 percent, Yes 41 percent.

In other words, more Americans think Qaddafi should stay in office than Obama should.

The comparisons of Obama to Carter have been numerous, but I don’t think Libya is a place Carter ever would have gone. Instead Obama’s Libyan adventure smacks of 1988 Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis. In an attempt to prove he was a tough leader and militarily capable, Dukakis infamously donned a helmet and climbed into a tank…where he proceeded to look ridiculous. Likewise, President Obama was pushed into this war–dragging America with him–by a feeling that not acting was leaving him looking weak and a second banana to the more bellicose Sarkozy. The wives of the two leaders seem to have a rivalry, so perhaps the competition has spilled into the affairs of the men as well.

In any case, he’s there now–and we with him–and it’s a fine mess indeed.

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