I bow to nobody in my distaste for Barack Obama. But his speech tonight accomplished its aims. It sounded reasonable and thoughtful. Its tone was right. Yes, there was a fundamental lack of logic in it, but that’s for the intellectuals to parse. From the standpoint of an ordinary watcher, Obama came across as presidential and focused. I’m not saying it was a great speech by any means, but it was a relatively effective one.
Also, I warn conservatives not to be too quick to belittle Obama’s goal of a regime change via diplomacy. With Qaddafi, it might just work. The man is a coward. When Reagan bombed him, he stayed mostly silent for 15 years — apart from Lockerbie, which he denied having anything to do with. When we overthrew Saddam, he got so scared that he turned over all his nukes and lots of other weapons. I can EASILY see Qaddafi accepting some sort of arrangement like the shah did, as in a life in safe exile somewhere, with some of his wealth still available along with his retinue of bodyguard babes.
In short, Obama easily could get lucky, and in doing so he could suddenly appear like a sage and a diplomatic collossus. Conservatives should not separate themselves from him so much that he can rub any subsequent successes in our faces. Indeed, I would not be surprised to see Qaddafi gone within a fortnight. What comes a while down the road might turn into a horrendous disaster, but it will be a slow-developing disaster that happens mostly off the TV screens of a media that by then will have moved on to different things enough that Obama will be able to claim no responsibility for the disaster. In sum, Obama’s policies might arise from a fundamental misjudgment of America’s proper role in the world, but he might nevertheless be playing this whole thing (starting tonight) very astutely from a purely domestic political standpoint. In truth, I think he is indeed doing so — and it’s a scary thought.