National Journal’s Ron Fournier, a veteran DC journo who calls ’em like he sees ’em, hasn’t been terribly impressed with President Obama’s careening and incomprehensible handling of the crisis in Syria. In an unsparing review, Fournier concludes that Obama has demonstrated himself to be naive and isolated. Behold what ‘smart power’ hath wrought:

Naive about the levers of power: Where to start? Obama reversed course on congressional authorization at the last minute, after a private chat with his chief of staff, and to the surprise of his national security team–all in violation of presidential best practices. He then left the country on a quixotic trip to Russia, allowing misgivings to grow in Congress and the public before he could build a case for striking Syria. Boxed in, Obama seized upon a Russian proposal to put Syria’s weapons in the hands of the international community. It’s an impractical solution, a fig leaf. Either Obama trusts Russian President Vladimir Putin (a mistake) or he is a partner in deceit (an outrage). A Democratic strategist who works closely with the White House, and who requested anonymity to avoid political retribution, told me, “This has been one of the most humiliating episodes in presidential history.” … As he faced an international and constitutional crisis, Obama and his team were in a familiar state: isolated, insular, and alone.

Continue reading →