Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Obama’s Second Achilles Heel: Foreign Policy

Obama’s chances of a second term are now under the worst threat since the presidential election started. He faces a triple whammy of attacks on his Administration’s handling of Iran and Israel, the fate of the Marine who shot Osama bin Laden, and the deadly attack in Libya which killed the US Ambassador.

Any one of these events is a threat big enough to derail the Obama campaign. Outside events can throw all election plans into limbo:

Candidates can refine their economic messages, poll-test key words about leadership, and allocate attack ad dollars with precision, but at the end of the day events are in the saddle and ride mankind.
Ambassador Stevens

The combination of all three is giving his Republican opponent a new lease of life after the lacklustre Republican Convention. 

The Republicans will weave all three events into one single three-legged frame: Obama is weak on foreign policy, soft on America’s enemies just like Jimmy Carter was, and hard on America’s allies.

The First Leg:

Mitt Romney has already framed the Libyan attack in a way that is troublesome for Obama, and fits the three-legged stool attack. Romney has focused on the reaction of the Administration to the film which seems to have caused the attack:

“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” Mr. Romney said in a statement that went out just before 10:30 p.m. “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

The Second Leg:

Obama is already riding a storm of protest over the apparent snub by the White House of a request that the President meet in October with the Israeli Prime Minister:

The prime minister also warned Mr Obama that his refusal to set Iran "red lines" meant that he had lost the moral right to place a "red light" in front of Israel by urging it to refrain from striking Tehran's nuclear facilities.

Tensions mounted further as it emerged that Mr Netanyahu would not meet the president during his visit to the United States at the end of this month when both men will attend the annual session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The White House said the two leaders would not be in New York at the same time but was left embarrassed after officials in Jerusalem said that Mr Netanyahu's offer to travel to Washington had also been rebuffed. The White House denied the allegation.
Body language: PM and President

Obama has handled the Israeli PM very badly. 

Between Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama, this Administration has given off signals that they don’t really take to heart the Israeli Prime Minister’s concerns about the steps being taken to prevent Iran building a nuclear bomb being ineffective. 

While the PM asks for a clear statement of just what will trigger an American attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, the Administration has refused to consider drawing lines in the sand, at a time when every week seems to bring fresh information about Iranian steps to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

The Third Leg:

The third leg of the three-legged stool attack is the response of the Secretary of Defence to the book written by a Marine who shot Osama bin Laden:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is suggesting that a retired Navy SEAL be punished for writing a book giving an insider’s account of the U.S. raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Asked in a network interview if he thinks the writer should be prosecuted, Panetta replied, “I think we have to take steps to make clear to him and to the American people that we’re not going to accept this kind of behavior.”

Panetta was referring to the newly published account of the U.S. SEAL raid that led to bin Laden’s killing in May 2011 in Pakistan. The book was written by a retired SEAL under the pseudonym of Mark 0wen. He was subsequently identified in media accounts as Matt Bissonnette.

These are strange words from an Administration officer some seven weeks before a presidential election. 
Jimmy Carter

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize that punishing a hero for such a transgression at this time, could be easily framed by the Republicans as an example of the Obama Administration being hard on the wrong things and soft on the wrong things.

The Role of Outsiders:

The reality right now is that the presidential election had been thrown into turmoil, with events by outsiders able to influence it in a way that nobody foresaw. The economy is Obama’s first Achilles Heel. Foreign policy is now a probable second Achilles Heel.

One more staged attack on Americans outside America could plunge the Obama campaign into a death spiral of denials.

How do you persuade voters that you are not a weak man and undeserving of being president when these things happen?

The spectre of Jimmy Carter and the Iranian hostage crisis is now hovering over the White House.


  1. Perhaps you're right.. perhaps not
    the tale is yet to unfold

    Leaping fearlessly to the fray, Mitt the Brave
    (of double Vietnam draft deferment. Morman Missionary + undergraduate)
    brandishes the frumious 3 legged political stool overhead ...
    shouting his disgust.. and exemplary experience regarding Libya.

    Oopsy .. Paul Ryan has suddenly fallen silent,
    (where is he?) has he stepped back in wonder as does Rush Limplog
    a huge WOBBLE ... Mitt is not so smiley, suddenly
    Rush's shock troops look on breathless, worried.. stunned

    Mighty Mitt has gone sub-orbital.. sensing olympian gold..
    the presidential CEO holy Mormon GRAIL ... eeow !!! In his reach !
    seizing (OK .. press releasing..) THE DAY !!!!
    at precisely and embargoed (out of respect you know) 12:01 AM
    after the US Ambassador was attacked, dragged & carried thru the streets
    eventually to a hospital.. before passing. Four of his associates as well.

    Let's see if Mitt can regain gravitational entry/balance and stick the landing.
    Already tho, it does seem the leap is highly over-rotating.. wonky..
    No heat shield !! No saving parachute or Daddy ? Wife? Or Koch Brother ?
    Uh Oh .. deary, deary me
    and the wicked stool, freed now from his grasping grasp..
    has landed.. & inverted, three pointedly ...
    at the end of his trajectory.. awaits him

    That's not at all... a good way to 'sit' a 3 legged stool ....

    Obama and the American people have the crisis right now
    Romney has an imminent appointment with a proctologist ..
    surely covered by ObamaCare ..

  2. Who cares what the republicans throw out? A hundred million dollars later and Obama is up 7 points in recent polls. Please, Obama owns the foreign policy debate. The wingers have nothing.

  3. Salamander sings! Thanks! I enjoyed your contribution.
    Anon - there are 7 weeks to go; a campaign can fall to pieces in one week. Think about some past presidential races and how fast the downwards spiral began and ended.

    Unless Obama takes immediate and effective steps to wrench the stage (and framing) back, he will be badly hurt by thisa. Democrats are for some strange reason very vulnerable to attacks in the field of foreign policy.


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