When President Obama was faced with the situation in Libya, he didn’t actually have any good options. If he and other wealthy countries decided not to intervene at all, multitudes of people in rebel-held cities would have been slaughtered on their watch. That’s the sort of thing that tends to happen in civil wars, but still. If he decided to invade Libya all-out and depose Gaddafi, he would have plunged the country into another quagmire in a foreign land with no end in sight, even though doing that apparently gets you re-elected. The choice he made, a compromise to simply shoot some Gaddafi targets from the air and just hope, privately, that he eventually falls, is not a good decision either, and that’s why it’s easy for just about everyone, from this blog to a person who thinks “squirmish” is a word, to criticize him. But it turns out Obama actually agrees he had no good option, calling the set of choices available a “turd sandwich” in a meeting. Why couldn’t he just tell the American public that?
Obama likes to pretend this war is a minor decision. That’s why he didn’t bother talking about it to the American people for a week, and when he finally did, he just delivered a flat speech in the Wheel of Fortune time slot attempting to downplay the situation. And then, surprise, the polls show a drop in his approval ratings and low support for this war.
Obama can no longer use his Hope and Change message in speeches because he’s president now and that stuff is supposed to be happening. So there’s a vacuum in what he says, and it’s been filled with a vague optimism. But sometimes people just want to hear the truth for once. And leveling with the public about the actual nature of the situation in a pragmatic “turd sandwich” message would have given the speech coherence and real purpose instead of it just being a collection of warmed-over rhetoric about freedom and humanity. Sometimes we need our president to tell us his job and the world and life in general is crappy and there are some things he can’t make all nice for us. And you know what would happen if Obama did that? Many, many people would totally understand!
“We were dealt a pile of complete shit, and the only way out of it is trying to pick up the shit. There were three options for doing this, and all of them were bad and would end up getting at least some shit on our stuff. I had to pick one, so I did. We may have to switch that strategy in the coming days and put even more effort into this so we don’t get shit all over the fucking place, so don’t get all pissy, but that’s the one I’m going with right now. I’m sorry somebody put this shit here. Hopefully we can get it picked up eventually. God bless America or whatever.”
The end. Greatest speech in the history of American rhetoric.