Not So Good 60 Minutes for Obama

Tonight’s 60 Minutes was masterful reporting of the Syria conundrum our nation is in. First there was an interview with Bassar al-Assad by Charlie Rose. To get Assad on 60 Minutes, knowing that it is international television, I found to be a genius coup of CBS. How could anyone not watch? Assad spoke in surprisingly good English for an Arab leader. He is a medical doctor with post-doctoral studies in London at the Western Eye Hospital, specializing in ophthalmology. I assume that’s where he learned his English, which he speaks with a strange-sounding lisp. I wonder if he lisps in Arabic? If anyone knows, please comment and set us straight.

After the Assad interview, which was taped last Sunday, 60 Minutes aired an interview with Obama, recorded a few days later.

Charlie Rose never asked Assad point-blank if he had ordered the chemical strikes, but he did ask many other tough questions. I don’t claim to have sufficient insight into the complex politics of the Syrian crisis. But if he ordered chemical strikes against his own people, of course I condemn it. But I must say with a considerable amount of shame, overall, Assad looked better tonight on international television than Obama did.

I can’t believe I just wrote this.

By the way Obama handled the Syrian crisis, he has damaged his presidency and he has made the United States look weak. I don’t profess that I might have done a better job myself. This whole thing is a mess. But right now, whether anyone else could have done a better job, Obama looks like a fool. Where are his foreign policy advisers? Where is his Henry Kissinger when he needs him? Obama needs somebody of Kissinger or Scowcroft caliber to tell him: “Mr. President, you’re fucking this one up big time!” Obama needs help, and fast.

It was a good thing that 60 Minutes closed out the hour with a stale report on marijuana in Colorado. What if they had got Putin on as the third piece? It would have been utter disaster for Obama.

Right now our government is stumbling on the world stage. Obama does not look ready for the job. This is not a good thing to happen to a president in his 5th year in office. Syria might have killed Obama’s legacy. When I voted for him, I thought he had it in him to be a great president.

Right now, I am embarrassed for him.

5 thoughts on “Not So Good 60 Minutes for Obama

  1. Jim and Jean Dooley

    I think you are way off base on this one. If the chemicals thing works out and we actually do a deal with Iran he could end up ranked among the best presidents. Still long shots, but I think we are much better off by holding off on the cruise missile approach, that would have been a big loser. But if he goes that way if the agreement doesn’t work out, still not a good option but at least a little more justification.

    1. It sounds like you are assuming that just because I criticize his performance I am advocating bombing. I do not. The problem with our government in this crisis is that it made early decisions on something it didn’t fully understand. Drawing red lines and making threats, then not following through is the problem. Following through now with senseless bombing would make things even worse. This is a complex, ugly situation, and there is now no easy way out of it. The current course may be the best under the circumstances. Regardless, our credibility and that of the president has suffered.

  2. Ray Cullen

    “ALL OVER THE SHOP”—I wonder if this expression,used here in Australia to describe someone’s frequently altering position on a given issue, “translates” to you/your readership elsewhere in the world. I find the expression effective,in that it imagines a structure of great immensity (eg. the largest department store you’ve seen) & allows that the opinion of a person so wavers,as to be “all over” such an enormous area.
    I’ve been a reader of your “blogs various”,Norbert,for quite a while now.At no point UNTIL now,have I observed your position(s) to so waver,as to be ALL OVER THE SHOP.Your attack(s) on Obama over the NSA matters were passionate,perhaps sometimes a little TOO much so-but at least consistent in their outrage.Your recent treatment of the Syrian conundrum however,have been SO contradictory as to warrant comment here.
    On Sept. 6th., your article-summed up in the heading,”It’s time to be Isolationist again” was demanding Obama pull back from any military action.On Sept. 8th.,you asked (re Syria) “What does that have to do with America?” **Fast-forward just a few days (when Obama DID hold off on military action) to your article of Sept. 15th–Does Obama,having held off on what you’d described (on Sept.8th) as “insanity”,finally meet with your approval-? Far from it—-“Obama looks like a fool.—Mr.President,you’re fucking this one up big time-!”
    WOW,Norbert-! You really ARE a hard guy to please-!! First-not that you actually used these words,but you originally IMPLIED that the President/his administration were “trigger happy”.When the situation changed,& the President was able to alter his position,your erstwhile concern for those on the receiving end of missile strikes became your NEW worry over,”our credibility & that of the President.” You wanted no military strike,yet when Obama held off,you described him as weak!! In fact the ONLY consistency in your recent blogs has been to criticise Obama-regardless of HIS position.
    You speak highly of Henry Kissinger.Please look more closely into THAT one-!! You seem to imagine American isolationism as some kind of political “Nirvana”. History would attest otherwise-!! At one point in your earlier ponderings,you suggest the U.S. use a missile strike to assasinate Assad.Were THAT to fail,just consider (in your words) “our credibility & that of the President”.Further,I imagine such a strike-& the incredible degree of military intelligence needed for same-would require the very type of NSA “snooping” which,just a few weeks ago,you were decrying-in ANOTHER criticism of Obama-!!
    ” When the facts change,I change my mind.What do you do-?” (attributed to John Maynard Keynes) Obama responded to changed circumstances,by having the courage to change his position. That’s the kind of U.S. presidential statesmanship we in the broader world admire. Perhaps it’s something of which Americans ought be justly proud-!!—-Ray.
    ****For a very DIFFERENT “take” on the matters above, I draw your attention-& that of my fellow readers of your blog-to –
    On that site,dedicated to “academic rigor,journalistic flair”, type into their search box,”In Praise of Prevarication-Barack Obama’s Syria Stategy”(Sept. 18th,2013)–an article by Mark Beeson,Professor of International Relations,at Murdoch University,Australia.
    *****My apologies for the “roundabout” referencing of the Beeson article.My computer skills don’t extend to being able to provide direct LINKS

    1. Wow, Ray, thanks for the systematic analysis. I do appreciate it.
      When I look back, my response is based on emotion, which is often not a good state from which to write. I got up from watching 60 Minutes and simply did not like how Obama looked after that.

      Yes, it’s easy to be critical, but it’s much harder to do the job yourself. I can say that this didn’t go well for Obama, but I am sorry to say – if I had been in his place, I don’t think I would have done a better job.

      My only excuse: I am not aspiring to run a country. But he put himself into that position. He gets 320 million emotional responses….when things go well, and when things don’t go well.

  3. Ray Cullen

    Hi again, Norbert. Thanks for reading my comments-& for your reply. Were you able to access the, ” In Praise of Prevarication” article at —? I found that article insightful. Perhaps you may be able to provide a link to same to make it easier for your readers to access that different perspective.
    Yes-I agree with your sentiments about the difficulties ANY U.S. President has in balancing all of the various issues/competing positions in a world which seems to be ever more complex with each passing day. Some of the reasons why THIS President has a tougher job than some of his predecessors, are alluded to in the article by Professor Beeson. In essence, the suggestion is that THIS President actually understands the complex nature of world affairs and the history of nations.
    Accordingly, (unlike certain predecessors) he’s more likely to give due consideration to the intricacies of issues faced by both the U.S.,& the broader world. In so doing, his careful, considered approach may be viewed ostensibly as “weakness”. In fact-& in the longer term-it is through JUST such a careful, measured approach (& even a willingness to alter a stance when circumstances change) that Obama may well spare us all further conflict in an already much troubled world.

Leave a Reply