WASHINGTON — As I read Vlad's op-ed in The New York Times, a Judy Collins tune kept replaying in my head: “Isn't it rich? Isn't it queer?”
The song, actually written by Stephen Sondheim, although it is Collins' signature hit, is “Send in the Clowns” and seems an apt soundtrack for current events. As we've stalled in making a decision about how to handle Syria (two years and counting), Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been allowed to emerge as reasonable heads of state, talking down to the U.S., lecturing us about our misplaced belief in exceptionalism, and making demands that mock our president.
Putin hasn't had this much fun since he rode shotgun in George W. Bush's truck. Recall that Bush, whose international outreach often included a ride around his Crawford, Texas, ranch, once said he looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul.
Next we have Obama, who, in an intimate moment with then-outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, conveyed a message to incoming President Putin. Thinking the microphones were off, Obama asked for a little space until after his re-election when he would have more wiggle room on missile defense.
“Wiggle room,” now there's a foreign policy. As the red line has moved, then blurred, then moved again until now it is nearly invisible, Putin has approached the American people directly via the Times, while Assad issues orders to Washington: He'll sign the chemical weapons agreement if the U.S. promises to bug off.
We can't quite seem to get it quite right at the helm. Either we're saddled with a cocksure “decidinator” who is feared for his lack of pause — or we're stuck with an over-thinker so afraid of making the wrong decision that he paralyzes himself into a pose of ineptitude.
Both profiles can be equally dangerous, depending on circumstances, though inarguably it is better to be feared than pitied. It is painful to watch as Obama is increasingly diminished by his inability to commit to a position that he himself has staked out.