Saying too much at the wrong time

There are few things in politics which come back to haunt a politician more than saying (particularly that which they didn't have to say) too much and worse yet, at a bad time.

Obama has done of this, and it has caused him the most headache and damage of anything that has happened. The big example: the "red line" over chemical weapons in Syria. Obama blustered that if anyone in Syria used chemical weapons, that it would cross a red line and trigger a response - which most people took as meaning military.

We don't have the all the information that a president would have. And, it is true that the media often grabs onto particular details and if any one of them turns out to be shaky, undermines the whole story. Therefore, I can't attest to knowing for sure if the way that I understand the story is actually the way it was or not. But, it appeared that, according to the media, and this seems to have been accepted whether it is accurate or not, the Syrian government forces were documented pretty substantially as having used chemical weapons on people that had taken up arms against the government in a neighborhood in a large city after Obama had said that using chemical weapons would cross a "red line" for the U.S. But there was no military response by the U.S.

Obama has been skewed in the press for "damaging the credibility of the U.S." and the failure to enforce the Syrian red line is the primary reason. Obama hasn't presented a great defense of this.

But hey, he did end up with the agreement for Syria to declare and destroy their whole stocks of chemical weapons. There was some skepticism that the implementation of the agreement actually ended in all the weapons being declared and destroyed, but no doubt, it was a step forward and avoided more war.

The point being is all Obama would have had to do differently to totally eliminate that whole scenario is to have avoided saying "red line." He could easily have said, "we will take as a serious act of aggression to which we will respond appropriately" and make his point and not been tied to any particular line crossing. Obama said too much, and at a bad time, and it has come back to haunt him, and will in history, although not that seriously I suspect.

I draw an analogy to Mitch McConnell saying publicly within a few hours of the public notice of Justice Scalia's death that no matter what Obama does, he's not even going to consider it. He did not have to say that. He could have said, for example, "Because of the timing of this appointment, we are going to give any nomination a very intense level of scrutiny, and are not going to be bullied into making any quick decisions." That would have said the same thing without giving away more than you needed to - which McConnell did - just as Obama did.

McConnell is in a box, and he can thank himself. He could have quietly negotiated a moderate appointment from Obama, but now, either he contradicts himself and goes ahead and buckles under political pressure and allows the Senate to consider an Obama nominee, or, he refuses to consider anything Obama puts up before he even puts anything up. Neither of those are good scenarios for him. If he had just kept his mouth shut, the damage would have been much less.

What if the Dems keep the presidency and retake the Senate? OMG! Eric Holder new #9? Something like that has to give McConnell pause, but he's almost locked in, or maybe he IS locked in.


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