May 3, 2011

Obama the tough?

Is Obama already in pre-election mode? Is Obama the apologist now Obama the tough? Or at least trying to be? Think about what has happened over the last month in foreign affairs. No peace brokering between Israel and Palestinians. It has swung 180 degrees from that type of talk from the White House to an invasion of Libya and the killing of Bin Laden.

Has someone in the White House looked at some polling data and decided to boost Obama's foreign policy credibility? Is the calculus that Obama seems too much like Alan Alda and not enough like Iron Man?  If this Obama the tough is meant to shore up some moderates (read - the not paying attention crowd) then it may have some small effect. And if that's the case then is there more to come?

I don't think so. I believe Bin Laden was the Obama foreign policy trump card. So don't expect to see an invasion of Syria next month. In fact playing the trump card was probably preemptive in trying to justify a non-invasion if Syria is not to be treated like Libya. Obama can now claim some reason for not taking action that should be taken in light of what he did in Libya. He figures his tough guy image proves he's not being wimpy but prudent.

I know that sounds cynical of me but why did they sit on this knowledge for so long, especially given the suspicious nature of Pakistan's ISI? Timing is everything they say and this timing just seems odd.  Sure, a lot of it is driven by events - Libya of course was.  So was finding Bin Laden.  But why the timing of the two so close together? Well, he's definitely a politician and a politician with a real chance of losing a re-election bid.  A politician in trouble has to damage control, and has to overcome the weaker parts of his existing image.

Would Obama have gone after Bin Laden anyway? Probably.  But it seems like he was waiting for a time when his political advantage from doing so was optimized.  This must have been what they figured was the best timing they could manage.  Now if they could only find some way to make Obamacare all shiny and the debt to magically disappear.

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