Commentary Magazine


Re: It Must Be Exhausting

Jen, it’s certainly good news that our diplomats won’t be celebrating the Fourth of July with representatives of the Iranian regime. Here’s what I find most interesting about these retractions of fanciful policy: that awkward PR no man’s land when the writing is on the wall but the administration can’t yet acknowledge it got things wrong. This has become a recognizable phase of Obama policy adjustment.

Yesterday, Obama was questioned on the status of the July 4 invites and instead of answering, he coughed up an Orpah-esque soliloquy about “healing wounds.” At these moments the president seems unable to fully relinquish the ambitious rhetoric that cloaked the naive policy. Back in April, before clearly advising against criminal investigations into the Bush administration for CIA methods, Obama was so committed to that “dark and painful chapter” schtick that days went by while he seemed to weigh the relative merits of moving forward against those of national political disintegration. Perhaps Obama, gifted speaker that he is, would come to reality-based policies sooner if he found an inspiring way to speak about things as they really are.