You know, with President Obama, you often get this tough guy talk that, like a wannabe schoolyard bad dude, sounds a litte hollow.
Whether he says he’s trying to figure out “whose ass to kick” or vows to Iran, “I don’t bluff,” one gets the sense that, well, he does bluff. And bluffs sometimes work, and sometimes, bluffs get called.
Obama looks dangerously close to having to live up to his vow that use of chemical weapons by Syria would be a “red line” and a “game changer.” What exactly does all that mean? Who knows. But if it doesn’t mean something very serious and deadly, Obama will be an obvious peddler of empty threats, and Iran and North Korea and China and Russia and al Qaeda and everyone else will take note.
And, so, surprise, surprise, the United States still ain’t sure Syria has used chemical weapons, even though Israel just announced that it is certain that’s exactly what Bashar Assad did. Israel may have its own reasons for prodding us to take on Assad, but Britain and France have also concluded this is what occurred.
But at the White House, the investigation continues. From Press Secretary Jay Carney’s briefing:
You can be sure we’re monitoring this and that we are looking for conclusive evidence, if it exists, if there was use of chemical weapons . . . I’m saying that we support an investigation. We are monitoring this, and we have not come to the conclusion that there has been that use.
Carney continued, “Oh God, please don’t make it that they used chemical weapons, oh God, please!”
Okay, not that last part. But my bet is that would have been a more accurate reflection of the thinking just a short walk from the briefing room, back in the West Wing.