Of the countless backdrops for President Obama's consequential speech on confronting ISIS, a few clearly stood out: The looming anniversary of September 11th. The aftermath of the executions of James Foley and Steven Sotloff. The (allegedly) war-weary American public.
As we noted yesterday, one elucidating poll linked them all. In it, 47 percent of Americans said they felt the country was less safe now than it had been prior to the September 11th attacks (a post-9/11 high). Meanwhile, approval ratings for the president's handling of foreign policy were at 32 percent, the point of freezing, even as a majority expressed support for action against ISIS. To boot, a whopping 94 percent of Americans had heard of the beheadings of Foley and Sotloff, among the highest levels of public consciousness for a news story in years.
And so, the fractured, frightened, and skeptical country tuned in on Wednesday night as President Obama outlined his strategy to defeat ISIS. Accordingly, the reactions ran the gamut:
Meet the new war, same as the old war.— God (@TheTweetOfGod) September 11, 2014
twitter divided on US war with ISIS, gung-ho for McCain-Carney war.— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) September 11, 2014
Here are some of the more noteworthy reactions:
The porridge was too cold:
A President who has made ending the war on terrorism a central focus of his foreign policy must now make winning it a priority.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) September 11, 2014
If President Obama is finally ready to drop the wobbly rhetoric and lead a coalition, I am prepared to offer the support he needs. #ISIS— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) September 11, 2014
Speaking with Peter Baker of the Times, Barry Pavel, a former Obama official, outlined why the strategy isn't enough:
I’m not sure half-steps into Syria are ultimately going to achieve the president’s goals. It’s a fine strategy for contain and disrupt. It’s not a strategy for defeat by any means. If you want to defeat ISIS, you have to go all-in to Syria, which the president isn’t prepared to do.”
The porridge is virtuous:
I support the president’s ISIL strategy. He is right to use his authority to go on the offense.— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) September 11, 2014
The porridge is conditionally virtuous:
The president’s call for coalition building is essential, but it is critical that moderate Muslim states play a significant role— Senator Dan Coats (@SenDanCoats) September 11, 2014
The porridge is virtuous, allow me to self-aggrandize/self-promote:
After calling on the president to take stronger action I'm encouraged by his announcement of US efforts to lead a coalition to destroy #ISIL— Saxby Chambliss (@SaxbyChambliss) September 11, 2014
Carl's statetement in support of the president's strategy to defeat ISIS: http://t.co/6pIBLLQBTQ— Senator Carl Levin (@SenCarlLevin) September 11, 2014
The porridge is too vague:
President Obama took several generalizations and called them a strategy tonight.— Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) September 11, 2014
We will be victorious, at some time, through some action, at some cost, by some definition.— Peter Suderman (@petersuderman) September 11, 2014
The porridge contradicted the entire legacy the president had previously sought:
Obama tonight gave up his ten year dream to be the president remembered by history for ending two wars.— Jonathan Alter (@jonathanalter) September 11, 2014
The presidents new foreign policy = Do exactly the opposite of everything I have ever said or done before.— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) September 11, 2014
The porridge is possibly or even definitely illegal:
The Constitution is very clear. The power to declare war resides in Congress. If we are to go to war, Congress must approve. #RandResponds— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) September 11, 2014
.@davidakaye bombing Syria w/o govt's permission & w/o UNSC authorization violates international law, right?— Robert Wright (@robertwrighter) September 11, 2014
Your criticisms of the porridge are faulty:
hate to beat a dead horse here. but save for those actually arguing to insert combat forces, obama’s plan mirrors everyone else’s plan— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) September 11, 2014
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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