Robert Shrum: A master of foreign policy must confront the march of the economic morons to evade the 41st president’s fate
With the fall of Moammar Gadhafi’s evil kleptocracy, Barack Obama is arguably the most successful foreign policy president since George H. W. Bush. And we know what happened to him.
First, Obama’s successes: The restoration of respect for America abroad; the negotiation and ratification of the new START nuclear arms treaty with Russia; his resolve to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by a date certain … relying on special operations and drones to counter the terrorist threat that infests the Pakistan–Afghanistan border, while skillful diplomacy with India has lessened the odds of a potential nuclear conflict on the subcontinent.
The promise of special ops was stunningly proven in the boldest decision of the president who, when he made it, surely realized that he had the loneliest job in the world … With a cool hand and no drama … Obama ventured a risky mission to capture or kill the elusive mastermind of 9/11. The mission was finally accomplished, but not with the bluster of Bush 43.
The president had already orchestrated American influence with the Egyptian army to secure the uprising there …. He took a similar approach in Libya in the face of withering and often opportunistic criticism from Republicans…..Predictably, Obama’s GOP adversaries now celebrate the outcome while refusing to give the president a scintilla of credit….
… The president doesn’t have the power here he wields in foreign affairs – and the tea-drugged Republican House and the filibuster-intoxicated Republicans in the Senate are bent on blocking whatever Obama is for … he has to contend with a march of morons that stretches from Capitol Hill to the summit of international policymaking.
….in the plain sight of the American people, the president can become the fighter for jobs and growth – and the GOP, to invert Obama’s own phrase, can be blamed for putting politics ahead of country. The Republicans are so overt in their obstruction that Obama won’t even have to say this explicitly; they themselves will pin the tail on the elephant.
….It’s time for this president to move on from the art of the possible to the art of persuasion. He was superb at that in 2008, and he can be again. The leader who so notably succeeded in foreign policy – and legislatively in health and financial reform – now has to recapture the nation’s imagination….
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