Do you remember those heady days of the 2008 campaign when Obama was a super intellectual with mad political skillz and godlike wisdom? Not only that, but he was the greatest public speaker ever. Ezra Klein called it “Obama’s Gift“:
Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.
As usual, Young Ezra was wrong.
To Mr. Obama’s critics, the disparity between the president’s previous statements and today’s reality reflects not simply poorly chosen words but a fundamentally misguided view of the world. Rather than clearly see the persistent dangers as the United States approaches the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, they said, Mr. Obama perpetually imagines a world as he wishes it were.
“I don’t think it is just loose talk, I think it’s actually revealing talk,” said Peter H. Wehner, a former adviser to President George W. Bush now at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Sometimes words are mistakes; they’re just poorly put. But sometimes they’re a manifestation of one’s deep belief in the world and that’s what you really get with President Obama.”
White House officials said the president’s opponents distorted what he said to score political points or hold him responsible for evolving events that were not foreseen. They also say Mr. Obama’s past statements are hardly on a scale of Mr. Bush’s unfounded assertions about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, not to mention Mr. Bush’s May 2003 speech in front of a banner that said “Mission Accomplished,” meant to signal an end to the major combat in Iraq.
“There is context or facts that explain what the president meant at the time, or things change over the course of time,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama. “The people who try to beat us up over these things will continue to do so.”
Other statements by Mr. Obama look different today as well. When the president pulled American troops out of Iraq near the end of 2011 against the urging of some Republicans, he said the armed forces were “leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq with a representative government.”
Aides defended the conclusion, saying that was the president’s hope and it was up to the Iraqis to make good on that promise, an opportunity they squandered, leading to the emergence of ISIS as a major threat.
Just a few months before that, Mr. Obama told the United Nations that “the tide of war is receding.” Aides said that statement had to be viewed in the context of two wars fought with hundreds of thousands of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 13 years. Even with new airstrikes in Iraq and potentially in Syria, they noted, just a fraction of those troops were still overseas.
I think my favorite part is where they invoke George Bush to defend Obama. After six years of Obama, “Bush was worse” is pretty lame.
I think it’s hilarious that they are reduced to claiming that Obama is a lousy communicator to explain his idiotic statements.
As for his poor foresight and judgment, it’s pretty hard to claim that “nobody could have predicted” when lots of people predicted exactly what is happening.