The New York Times‘ Ross Douthat has really been bird-dogging President Obama’s speeches and actions with regards to our latest adventure. So much so, that if Libya hadn’t happened, one wonders what he’d be writing about.
Being the Times‘ token conservative voice, he writes in measured, serious tones: In today’s blog-ed entitled, “The President’s Credibility Gap“, there is no talk about impeachment, no call to man the bongo drums or bring the stilt puppets out of the basement. Just thoughtful analysis:
Does it matter that Obama’s words don’t really seem to match his administration’s actions? There’s an argument that it doesn’t, advanced by Stephen Walt and Kevin Drum among others. “In the end,” Drum suggests, “Obama will be judged on whether his approach works,” rather what he says or doesn’t say about it. Likewise Walt: “Because this was clearly a war of choice, what matters is not the justification that he provided for it or the ways he attempted to assuage concerns about possible precedents … What matters is what actually happens in Libya over the next few weeks or months.”
Now in the broad sense it’s true that nothing matters in warmaking as much as the outcome. But if and when things do go wrong in war — or if and when they turn messy and long-running and inconclusive, as seems all too likely in this case — it usually goes harder on politicians if they’ve been less than honest about the nature and scope of the conflict, what the risks might be, and how deeply the United States is willing to commit itself.