Context Matters: What Was Actually Said During Obama's Thursday Press Conference

The following excerpt represents a man who clearly has no idea what he is doing.

Because of our strikes, the terrorists of ISIL are losing arms and equipment. In some areas, Iraqi government and Kurdish forces have begun to push them back. And we continue to be proud and grateful to our extraordinary personnel serving in this mission.

Now, ISIL poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and to people throughout the region, and that’s why our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL, and that starts with Iraq’s leaders building on the progress that they’ve made so far and forming an inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIL.


Any successful strategy, though, also needs strong regional partners. I’m encouraged so far that countries in the region, countries that don’t always agree on many things, increasingly recognize the primacy of the threat that ISIL poses to all of them. And I’ve asked Secretary Kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that’s needed to meet this threat.

As I’ve said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy, but I’m confident that we can and we will, working closely with our allies and our partners. For our part, I’ve directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. I’ll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy. And I’ve been consulting with members of Congress, and I’ll continue to do so in the days ahead...

...We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard.

But there’s no point in me asking for action on the part of Congress before I know exactly what it is that is going to be required for us to get the job done...

...But, as I said to Chuck [Todd], I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. And in some of the media reports, the suggestion seems to have been that, you know, we’re about to go full scale on an elaborate strategy for defeating ISIL. And the suggestion, I guess, has been that we’ll start moving forward imminently, and somehow Congress, still out of town, is gonna be left in the dark.

That’s not what’s gonna happen. We are gonna continue to focus on protecting the American people. We’re gonna continue, where we can, to engage in the sort of humanitarian acts that saved so many folks who were trapped on a mountain.

We are gonna work politically and diplomatically with folks in the region. And we’re gonna cobble together the kind of coalition that we need for a long-term strategy as soon as we are able to fit together the military, political and economic components of that strategy. There will be a military aspect to that. And it’s gonna be important for Congress to know what that is, in part because it may cost some money.
— http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/transcriptpresident-obamas-aug-28-remarks-on-ukraine-and-syria/2014/08/28/416f1336-2eec-11e4-bb9b-997ae96fad33_story.html

It's clear that our President has no comprehensive strategy to deal with ISIS.  I mean, anyone can read the above excerpt from his Thursday press conference and clearly see he is clearly flying by the seat of his pants on this major issue.  As if that wasn't bad enough those exact pants he is flying by seem to be some taupe color that clearly should not be worn the week before Labor Day.  All and all a disastrous showing by our Commander-in-chief.  

At least that's what our mainstream media would have us believe.

If you had been living under a rock for the past two days you might very well turn on your evening news right now and hear that President Obama made the biggest blunder of his presidency at this past Thursday's press conference.  That he single-handedly undermined six years worth of foreign policy success.  That he put the lives of thousands of our soldiers and diplomats in the region at risk.  That he lost the trust of the American people.  That he made himself a lame duck president.  That he finally admitted the job of the presidency is too much for him to handle.

Of course, none of that actually happened.

Yet, it's all anybody is talking about.  Because today's mainstream media loves the twitterization of the news.  So what does it do?  It takes one impromptu response from an intricate and involved press conference and essentially buries the rest of the speech.  For those keeping score at home, the entire press conference ended up being 4,472 words.  However, all anybody wants to talk about is those magical six words that have given Fox News a bigger erection than a bottle of Cialis: 

We don't have a strategy yet.

You know what thought when I heard the president utter these six words?  Good.  I'm glad we don't have a strategy yet.  Unlike our neocon cowboys like McCain, Graham, Wolfowitz, and Kristol who want to involve the United States in every war under the sun, I actually appreciate the fact that we have a pragmatic president who doesn't jump into Middle East quagmires unlike the previous administration.  ISIS represents a new kind of threat, the likes of which the world has never seen before.  They're ruthless, they're well-funded, and they're now across international borders in what is already the most volatile region in the world.  As Stephen Colbert so eloquently stated, ISIS unfortunately cannot be defeated by the power of make believe.

So what we need is a pragmatic approach, which our President is clearly pursuing.  Our targeted airstrikes are working.  We're working with the Iraqi people.  We're building strong coalitions in the region.  The National Security Council is in the process of developing a comprehensive strategy.  We will continue to provide humanitarian aid to those in need of it.  And through all of this, we will consult the American Congress as soon as they return from their sixteenth vacation of the year.  Because even lazy overpaid government officials should be part of this conversation going forward.

Call me crazy, but it sounds like our president has a damn good strategy for dealing with the most extreme terrorist group in modern history.

Yet the media continues to pile it on the President.  For those that continue to insist there is a liberal bias in the media, they should feel free to let us know which major network has actually defended the president's remarks.  Of course, once the right wing news outlets picked up their six work snippet, the other networks fell into line like the good little lapdogs they are.  Even the presidential cheerleaders over at MSNBC have led with that magical quote.  Because indecision is so much more sexy than detailed, nuanced responses about an intricate and involved political issue.  Today's news media knows that very few of us will actually go and read the other 4,466 words where the president so delicately laid out his comprehensive strategy for dealing not only with ISIS but, oh by the way, the other major world issue involving Russia and Ukraine that our president is also simultaneously dealing with.

But that's simply boring.

Our fourth estate has been worthless for the past decade and it is examples like this that showcase why.  In an effort to dumb down the news, news media outlets are simply looking for that gotcha! moment.  When they get it, nothing else matters.  It's why the headline inevitably goes from Obama Details Comprehensive Strategy to Combat ISIS to Obama Admits He Has No Strategy to Deal with ISIS.  Because not having a strategy works so much better for everyone involved.  The Sunday talk show lineup can book itself.  People defending Obama.  People criticizing Obama.  People self-proclaiming themselves ISIS experts and developing their own strategy.  That's just so much more interesting than simply asking, "What did you think of the President's comprehensive ISIS strategy revealed on Thursday?"

As we move forward, the President will continue to excel the way he has always excelled:  By being thoughtful, deliberate, and pragmatic.  It's why we helped take out a dictator in Libya without putting boots on the ground.  It's why we stayed out of Syria during its gruesome civil war.  It's why we pursued economic sanctions to cripple the Russian economy as a way to penalize them for their actions in the Ukraine.  And it's why we got out of Iraq and Afghanistan so that we're currently discussing how to deal with ISIS from half a world away rather than bringing home hundreds of coffins of American soldiers killed in action by ISIS.  Regardless of what the media thinks, I'm glad our President is once again doing the right thing.

Even if it isn't sexy enough to make the evening news.



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