A president in over his head

By Tom Quiner

“I’m thinking we should do something.”

These were the sentiments expressed by a friend over coffee this morning. We were talking about the Syrian situation.

My friend was concerned about the victims of chemical weapons in Syria. Shouldn’t a great nation like the U.S. intercede in the name of humanity?

For the record, she is an ardent Obama supporter. These are interesting times, I’d say, even complicated times. A liberal president is agitating for war while conservatives balk.

What SHOULD the U.S. do?

Pope Francis, whom the world seems to hold in high regard, weighed in:

“There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.

I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me.

How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed!

I think of many children [who] will not see the light of the future!

With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable!”

In subsequent remarks, the Holy See called on us not to “remain indifferent to the dramatic situation.” He called on the governments of the world “to do everything possible to assure humanitarian assistance.” But here’s the kicker: he said a “military solution” is a “futile pursuit.”

The American people seem to agree. Two fresh polls indicate that only 20% to 29% of the public back the president’s call for a military response in Syria.

Peggy Noonan parsed the American mood in her column in today’s Wall Street Journal. As usual, she nails what we’re thinking:

 “Is Barack Obama a war president? On Syria he has done nothing to inspire confidence. Up to the moment of decision, and even past it, he has seemed ambivalent, confused, unaware of the implications of his words and stands. From the “red line” comment to the “shot across the bow,” from the White House leaks about the nature and limits of a planned strike to the president’s recent, desperate inclusion of Congress, he has seemed consistently over his head.”

She presents a damning image of the president, an image too many Americans have of our Commander in Chief:

“I have been thinking of the iconic image of American military leadership, Emanuel Leutze’s painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” There Washington stands, sturdy and resolute, looking toward the enemy on the opposite shore. If you imagine Mr. Obama in that moment he is turned, gesturing toward those in the back. “It’s not my fault we’re in this boat!” That’s what “I didn’t set a red line” and “My credibility is not at stake” sounded like.”

This is the image that bothers me. President Obama is a blamer, he’s not a leader. He makes excuses. I have no confidence in his ability, his judgement, his intentions in pursuing a military strike against Syria.

Let us hope the president heeds the words of wisdom from Pope Francis.

Let us hope he avoids the “futile pursuit of a military solution.”

I don’t want a man in over his head leading us into a new war.




  1. lburleso on September 6, 2013 at 11:06 am

    It would be appropriate for him to take a spontaneous family vacation right now. That would be over the top hilarious.

    • quinersdiner on September 6, 2013 at 11:12 am

      Maybe he and Putin are playing golf right now.

  2. abcinsc on September 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    And neither do I.

  3. Bob Zimmerman on September 6, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    The simplest reason to oppose an attack on Syria?… Obama is FOR it!

    • quinersdiner on September 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      “The simplest reason to oppose an attack on Syria?… Obama is FOR it!”

      Bob … what a simplistic, racist, misogynist, and conservative thing to say, despite the total and irrefutable truthfulness of the statement. Have a nice Friday;-)

  4. churchbus71andetc on September 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    I agree–we can only make things worse by taking action in Syria especially when we have no idea who the real bad guys are. This is the moment that, I’m sure Obama has been dreading, when he has to step up to the plate and make a real decision. I’m from Illinois and I can tell you he did NOTHING the whole time he served in our state. He is the most unlikeliest man to be elected president ever on his slim to no qualification for the job. The real travesty is that he got in for a second term. It is terrifying to realize that our great Ship of State has such paper politician at the helm.

    • quinersdiner on September 6, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks for your unique perspective.

  5. oarubio on September 6, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Hopefully, we’ll survive the eig…eigh……eight (I just can’t say it) years of this Administration. If not, our nation’s epitaph will be a simple one taken from three rivers: “From the Delaware to the Potomac to the Styx.”

  6. […] A president in over his head (quinersdiner.com) […]

  7. Brian Penn on September 7, 2013 at 5:29 am

    Tom, great post. I feel sick for our nation with this guy at the helm. Not sure on a way forward with this one but Charles Krauthammer had a great post yesterday on how Israel leads from out in front in dealing with its neighbors. Check it out. Thanks!

    • quinersdiner on September 7, 2013 at 6:04 am

      No one says it better than the esteemed Mr. Krauthammer. Thanks for writing.