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Has WaPo Awakened from Its Obama Fantasy?

Has WaPo Awakened from Its Obama Fantasy?

The President gets slammed by the Washington Post, which endorsed him twice.

Like the New York Times, the Washington Post is a liberal newspaper. Unlike the New York Times, the Post has a mostly reasonable view of foreign policy. Finally, it appears that to the editors of the Washington Post the reality of President Obama has superseded the fantasy.

A few days ago the Washington Post ran an editorial, President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy. In one paragraph it demolishes the illusions that animate President Obama’s foreign policy:

Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior. Neither has China’s president, Xi Jinping, who is engaging in gunboat diplomacy against Japan and the weaker nations of Southeast Asia. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people, sending helicopters to drop exploding barrels full of screws, nails and other shrapnel onto apartment buildings where families cower in basements. These men will not be deterred by the disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion or even disinvestment by Silicon Valley companies. They are concerned primarily with maintaining their holds on power.

In a later paragraph, the Post characterizes President Obama’s mindset.

The urge to pull back — to concentrate on what Mr. Obama calls “nation-building at home” — is nothing new, as former ambassador Stephen Sestanovich recounts in his illuminating history of U.S. foreign policy, “Maximalist.” There were similar retrenchments after the Korea and Vietnam wars and when the Soviet Union crumbled. But the United States discovered each time that the world became a more dangerous place without its leadership and that disorder in the world could threaten U.S. prosperity. Each period of retrenchment was followed by more active (though not always wiser) policy. Today Mr. Obama has plenty of company in his impulse, within both parties and as reflected by public opinion. But he’s also in part responsible for the national mood: If a president doesn’t make the case for global engagement, no one else effectively can.

The editorial is as harsh as it is remarkable, because this is an editorial board that twice endorsed President Obama for President.

The reversal, however, begs a question. What took so long? Even before President Obama ran for office the first time there were indications that this was his worldview.

In their first endorsement of Barack Obama the editors of the Washington Post asserted:

But Mr. Obama, as anyone who reads his books can tell, also has a sophisticated understanding of the world and America’s place in it. He, too, is committed to maintaining U.S. leadership and sticking up for democratic values, as his recent defense of tiny Georgia makes clear. We hope he would navigate between the amoral realism of some in his party and the counterproductive cocksureness of the current administration, especially in its first term. On most policies, such as the need to go after al-Qaeda, check Iran’s nuclear ambitions and fight HIV/AIDS abroad, he differs little from Mr. Bush or Mr. McCain. But he promises defter diplomacy and greater commitment to allies.

They did take a break from their enthusiastic endorsement to issue a caution:

Mr. Obama’s greatest deviation from current policy is also our biggest worry: his insistence on withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq on a fixed timeline. Thanks to the surge that Mr. Obama opposed, it may be feasible to withdraw many troops during his first two years in office. But if it isn’t — and U.S. generals have warned that the hard-won gains of the past 18 months could be lost by a precipitous withdrawal — we can only hope and assume that Mr. Obama would recognize the strategic importance of success in Iraq and adjust his plans.

These same experts who endorsed the first term senator for the highest office in the land also identified his biggest weakness, but treated it as something to take under advisement not as a bright, red flag. In 2012 the same editors endorsed Barack Obama for re-election, though with somewhat less enthusiasm. (In the 2008 endorsement, Washington Post editors praised Obama’s “temperament” as “He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view.” Four years later, they characterized the administration as coming across as “both arrogant and thin-skinned.”)

In 2012, too, they noticed:

By not securing a presence in Iraq after ending the U.S. military mission, he failed to capitalize on America’s decade-long commitment to that nation, and his ambivalence regarding Afghanistan — sending more troops, but with artificial deadlines and no clear commitment to their success — promises trouble in coming years.

Iraq was important enough to warrant a separate mention in the original endorsement. Obama, as feared, did exactly what the editors warned against, and yet they still endorsed him a second time.

But it wasn’t just about Iraq. Two years ago, I wondered if it was possible that the Post would not endorse Obama a second time. I observed that the editors had criticized the president on a number of substantive foreign policy issues. Realistically, I didn’t expect them to endorse President Obama’s Republican opponent.

Given the Washington Post’s serious criticisms of President Obama’s foreign policy over the years, it is clear that they understood his weaknesses. While I’m happy to see that they now understand how poorly the President is handling foreign policy, it’s disappointing that they waited so long for such a devastating critique.

I suppose, still, better late than never.

Please see related thoughts from Neo-Neocon.

[Photo: Mary Sargent / YouTube ]


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In an “oops” moment tonight, the president dropped a letter when paying tribute to the one and only Franklin at the White House concert series event, “In Performance at the White House: Women of Soul.”

“When Aretha first told us what R-S-P-E-C-T meant to her, she had no idea it would become a rallying cry for African Americans, and women, and then everyone who felt marginalized because of what they looked like or who they loved. They wanted some respect,” the president said.


Q: Has the WaPo awakened from its Obama fantasy?

A: You must be kidding? Now that he can’t run for a third term, they feel safe in expressing some of the misgivings that they’ve been perfectly aware of since before ’08. The retribution of the left is a terrible thing, and if they had been even the slightest bit more vocal of their criticisms before the last election, their fellow travelers would have torn into them like rabid wolves, decrying them as radical right-wing Fox news watching Limbaugh supporting puppets of the Koch brothers, et al…

The moment Hillary declares her candidacy, they will happily hop back on the crazy train, ready to support the exact same disastrous policies that have dragged us to this point.

    Immolate in reply to georgfelis. | March 7, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    This. WAPO can criticise Obama (but not his policy objectives) at will now that he is immune from running again for reelection. Nobody in a competitive district is going to want Obama anywhere near their campaign, and I can’t imagine what WAPO would have to do to make the prez more toxic than he’s already made himself.

    When they start addressing that kind of criticism toward Clinton, I’ll give them some cred. They throw just enough dirt over the wall to make them appear to the unobservant as objective, but when it comes time to deliver, they will swallow ever time, however much they grimace.

    Estragon in reply to georgfelis. | March 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Exactly. Call it an “exit strategy” as they walk back their seven-year love affair with the Clown Prince.

    If WaPo wanted to change back into a real newspaper, they would begin by firing Dana Milbank and Ruth Marcus. And would have fired Ezra Klein long before he demanded $10 million and his own bathroom.

You’ve got to be kidding-

You can’t cherry pick a couple of op-ed’s, then claim credibility.

Once you’ve lost it, you’ve lost it. It’s the old “were you lying then, or lying now?”

90% of Wapo’s op-ed’s have been nothing more than political hackery in the age of Obama.

Interesting that they those chose to kick him on foreign policy as the new queen of the left is about to be ordained–one who was a Secretary of State, who’s strength is said to be foreign policy.

    Olinser in reply to Browndog. | March 7, 2014 at 10:51 am

    This is the same BS that the left pulls all the time when they try to claim they’re ‘not biased’.

    They do the same thing with hacks like Fallon, Maher, or O’Brien too. They’ll tell 2 ‘jokes’. Their Romney joke will be something like, “Romney doesn’t carry money around. He pays his bills with the canceled health policies of dead grandmas”, while the Obama joke will be something like what O’Brien used, “Obama said the day after the budget deal he’s going to concentrate on immigration. He’ll start by deporting Ted Cruz’ or something like Maher’s ‘joke’ of, “Obama is still ahead in swing states and among women. He is of course losing among men and any state where you can buy the Confederate flag in the mall.”

    Look how fair and balanced they are! They told 1 Romney joke, and 1 Obama joke!

    This is the BS that the media tries to get away with.

    A few years from now they’ll claim that they wrote X stories critical of Obama and X stories supportive of Obama, and look, they’re about the same number! See, we’re not biased! We were impartial!

    Except they conveniently ignore the fact that the bulk of their ‘critical’ stories were stories written after the election, or they were ‘critical’ because the story was whining about how Obama wasn’t tough enough on the evil Republicans.

      DINORightMarie in reply to Olinser. | March 7, 2014 at 11:46 am

      Content. Context. They don’t show up in “counts” like their inane “xx pro, xx con – see we’re not biased” BS.

      Good post!

      Radegunda in reply to Olinser. | March 7, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      There’s also that comedian’s rationale from a couple of years ago: “We can’t do jokes about Obama because he’s just too perfect. There’s nothing funny in perfection.”

      Dems also like to claim that the imbalance of critical reportage simply reflects the “fact” that Democrats are so pure and Republicans so evil.

      Roughly half the population votes Republican, and more identify as conservative than as liberal or leftist; but the media keep treating “Republican” and “conservative” as intrinsically extreme-kook-fringe designations, so we see stories about how a pro athlete (to say nothing of a Hollywood actor) is questioned about the strange fact that he’s a Republican. No bias there? Yeah, right.

Bah. This is standard media practice. Lie, ignore, spin, hedge and generally put your finger on the scale to support Democrats. Once the election is safely in the bag: take a cursory look at your own coverage, declare that you weren’t particularly fair to Republicans, issue a mea culpa, announce you’ll do better next time and then wait for the next election season to warm up.

Its as predictable as the tides.

The WaPo is engaging in a “movement” that originated in the UK with the Guardian, “Don’t listen to Obama’s Ukraine critics: he’s not ‘losing’ – and it’s not his fight”

Michael Cohen makes a great argument for the PM of Slovenia, but it really doesn’t cut it for the “Most Powerful Man on the Planet” or the “Leader of the Free World.”

This little piggy went to the market,
This little piggy stayed home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none,
And this little piggy cried wee wee wee all the way home.

Cue Beatles “Piggies”

Obama’s foreign policy:
1) If you don’t do anything you can’t be blamed for anything. He wants people to like him, to rspect him.

2) And, if you talk nice and throw your giant hubris around, maybe they will play nice.

Note to @VJ44 & Obama: Kicking a door in might release some of that pent up anger that is now directed at the Tea Party via the IRS.

    Obama’s foreign policy:

    1) Whatever weakens Israel

    2) Whatever weakens the United States

    other than that, he really isn’t interested in foreign policy. Never was, never will be.

Juba Doobai! | March 7, 2014 at 11:10 am

Short answer: No.
Long answer: No. It’s just an odd kick in their gallop.

>>”Has WaPo Awakened from Its Obama Fantasy?”

No. Just a credibility salvage operation.

they no longer need to get him elected so can stretch their legs a bit.
same in second clinton term.

Maybe this is the effect of Bezos’s purchase of the paper? A welcome change in tone, away from 24/7 Obama worship and propagandizing on his behalf. Nonetheless, the paper still needs to clean out the rest of the worthless liberal propagandists on its payroll, before I deign to read it. I’ll stick with the Wall Street Journal, for now.

Subotai Bahadur | March 7, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Based on actual observation for decades, the Washington Post only prints the Party line. This is either an Article 58 violation which will result in someone being severely punished; or it is Maskirova or Dezhinformatsia. Believing anything that appears in the Washington Post, including the weather report and sunrise/sunset times, without independent confirmation is grounds to question mental competency.

Subotai Bahadur

Henry Hawkins | March 7, 2014 at 12:35 pm

It’s a lameduck season ‘fairness’ marker that avoids domestic policy to which the WAPO can point whenever they want to address accusations of bias, a la “Oh, we’re shills for Obama are we? Well, read this!”

You can’t ink one editorial on foreign policy while ignoring Benghazi and all the domestic policy train wrecks like Porkulus, Fast ‘N Furious, IRS targeting, and Obamacare and come away suddenly an objective news source.

The best one can say about the Washington Post is this:

“Like the blind squirrel in the fog that occasionally stumbles across an acorn, the Post will issue a sensible opinion under the light of a blue moon. However, they don’t mix metaphors. There’s that.”

    Browndog in reply to Henry Hawkins. | March 7, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Besides, no credit points for stating the obvious.

    Everyone (in the world) knows Obama sucks at foreign policy. Along comes WaPo to say “hey, we’ve suddenly and unexpectedly uncovered a flaw in His Majesty’s imperial reign–foreign policy.”

      TrooperJohnSmith in reply to Browndog. | March 8, 2014 at 9:56 am

      Why is it that when the band plays “Hail to the Chief” I only hear the “Benny Hill Show” theme (Yakkity Sax)?

The Post got a new owner last year and the new owner cancelled an Ezra Klein project which resulted in Mr Klein leaving their employ. The new owner is Jeff Bezos who founded Amazon and I think that we can look forward to more, ahem, “fair and balanced” reporting.

TrooperJohnSmith | March 8, 2014 at 9:53 am

“And in conclusion, we here at the Washington Post have therefore concluded that it is indeed impossible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”

The WaPo has long been one of the biggest purveyors of the myths that Obama’s policies embody. That paper’s editors ought to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

And, I agree with the other poster who thinks that the WaPo will endorse Hillary Clinton the moment that corrupt, lying, unprincipled, and publicly-proven incompetent person declares her candidacy.