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POLITICS: White House

Obama's 'no strategy' remark sends supporters into tailspinning damage control

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,White House,Barack Obama,Press Secretary,Iraq,Syria,Josh Earnest,Becket Adams,ISIS

Although President Obama is no stranger to the occasional careless remark, he has in recent months forced his most ardent supporters to defend an unusual number of missteps.

The most recent presidential incident requiring damage control involves Obama commenting "we don't have a strategy yet" in reference to the threat posed by ISIS, the terrorist cell that has captured large portions of land in Iraq and Syria, leaving in its wake bloody conquest and slaughter.

The “no strategy” remark has left several critics shocked, many demanding to know when the White House plans to address the growing and murderous ISIS threat.

“A stark admission, since the threat of ISIS has increased at an astonishing rate in the last year,” ABC News' Martha Raddatz said Friday.

“Is there any concern about this message to ISIS to the world?” her colleague, David Muir, asked.

“There is indeed,” she responded. “That is creating a lot of concern given that ISIS has been gaining strength for years.”


However, this isn't to say that the president is without his defenders. You can always count on his subordinates and certain pockets of the media to rush to his defense, spinning and explaining away each and every thoughtless comment.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reacted immediately to the "no strategy" gaffe, assuring voters that Obama didn't mean what he said.

“In his remarks today, [the president] was explicit — as he has been in the past — about the comprehensive strategy we'll use to confront ISIL threat,” the White House spokesman tweeted.

The race was on to see who would be the first to offer a defense outside the White House. Vox soon rode in to the rescue.

“Viewed in context with the rest of his remarks, Obama's point might be that there is no good strategy available for fully defeating ISIS in both Iraq and Syria — which is both consistent with his approach the crisis in those countries, in which he has primarily avoided risky escalation, and perhaps true,” Vox's Zack Beauchamp suggested.

MSNBC's Steve Benen, writing for Rachel Maddow's blog, blasted the criticism of Obama's comment as "manufactured outrage." He wrote, "Indeed, what strikes me as especially bizarre about this latest hullabaloo is how unnecessary it is. Congressional Republicans have spent the last two weeks saying they want to see Obama’s strategy for dealing with ISIS in Syria. The president said yesterday he’s still crafting a strategy for dealing with ISIS in Syria. None of this is exactly stop-the-presses material."


And then there are of course the far left sites that will defend just about anything so long as a Democrat is involved:


These defenses are particularly delightful for the reason that they're entirely predictable. Indeed, as the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman predicted following the press briefing, it was only a matter of time before the president's supporters surfaced to offer their defenses:



Despite their best efforts, the president's defenders likely won't get through. It's unlikely that “explainers” or pooh-poohing criticism will diminish the fact that a great many, including members of the national media, view the “no strategy” moment as a significant messaging error.

And you better believe the White House is already thinking of ways for the president to correct his mistake.

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