Officials analyzing Moammar Gadhafi’s rambling speech are concerned that the Libyan strongman is so untethered to reality he may “burn down the house with him,” as one put it, putting the Lybyan people — and hundreds of Americans — at risk, and prompting President Obama to carefully calibrate his words. In his first public remarks on the crisis Wednesday, President Obama didn’t mention Gadhafi’s name, not wanting to personalize the crisis and feed into Gadhafi’s megalomaniacal worldview of this crisis as a showdown between him and President Obama. – Jake Tapper
Dana Milbank has penned a brutal piece today entitled: Jay Carney: Mouthpiece for an inscrutable White House. Not exactly the way anyone wants to start their new job.
“So it’s fair to say we are in the midst of, sort of, changing, reworking our Middle East policy?” asked NBC’s Chuck Todd.
Carney retreated to more talk about timeless principles. And that’s about the best he can do — until the president devises a policy for him to talk about.
This comes at a time when the White House is caught between a murderous, rampaging Libyan thug, a roiling Middle East, and news that Moammar Gadhafi considers “unauthorized media” as terrorists. From the State Dept. this morning, a “Notice to the Press”:
In meetings with senior Libyan government officials, U.S. diplomats were told that some members of CNN, BBC Arabic and Al Arabiya would be allowed into the country to report on the current situation. These same senior officials also said that some reporters had entered the country illegally and that the Libyan government now considered these reporters Al Qaida collaborators.
The Libyan government said that it was not responsible for the safety of these journalists, who risked immediate arrest on the full range of possible immigration charges. Foreign journalists already in Libya who are not part of the approved teams were urged to immediately join the approved teams in-country.
Be advised, entering Libya to report on the events unfolding there is additionally hazardous with the government labeling unauthorized media as terrorist collaborators and claiming they will be arrested if caught.
Pres. Obama’s statement yesterday is not pacifying anyone.
I’ve also asked Secretary Clinton to travel to Geneva on Monday, where a number of foreign ministers will convene for a session of the Human Rights Council. There she’ll hold consultations with her counterparts on events throughout the region and continue to ensure that we join with the international community to speak with one voice to the government and the people of Libya.
We have entered a moment in time where the United States is not able to impact a situation of grave threat and danger. It’s an uncomfortable situation made worse by the reality that U.S. citizens are inside Libya, stuck at present due to weather conditions, according to Reuters.
On Libya, it’s not clear what Pres. Obama’s critics expect him to do. But given our cowboy country something tells me the Right has Ronald Reagan in Grenada dancing in their heads, even though Libya is as close to Grenada in comparisons as Yonkers is to the moon.
Pres. Obama’s plan to “join with the international community to speak with one voice” is understandable given we can’t do anything to change the situation inside Libya. The problem is that it puts the American President in a passive position of waiting and watching, which doesn’t translate well from Jay Carney’s perch.
The problem Milbank is channeling through his typical fit, however, hits on a major presidential problem that is the core of who Barack Obama is as a politician, which is coming to a head. Libya may be the fulcrum right now, but it lies on a lazy Susan of issues where Pres. Obama prefers not to lead but be dragged.
AP Radio’s Mark Smith pointed out that “since your briefing began, West Texas crude topped $100 a barrel. Is this just a matter of watching, or is there anything the U.S. government can do?”
Carney opted for the former. “I don’t want to speculate about where prices will go, or any other potential things in the future,” he replied. “We’re just monitoring it.”
[…] Carney even portrayed as a passive gesture the administration’s announcement that it would no longer defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act. “The administration had no choice,” he said. “It was under a court-imposed deadline to make this decision.”
Clear direction and decisive action is not what Obama does, see health care, but also how he was moved to create a deficit commission through pressure from the Right, adopting their silly austerity line. Obama’s lack of true political north has been weighing him down for a very long time. The press is finally getting restless about it at a time when the world is on fire, which has traditionally been when the U.S. leads the world, not simply seeks to speak “with one voice.”