When President Barack Obama makes the case for military action against Islamic State militants on Wednesday night, it won’t be hard to convince Americans to get involved in the conflict. The hard part will be explaining how we get out.
The president is speaking to the American people — not to Congress. He may not even ask Congress to authorize the use of force. Just to fund it. Which they will do because they don’t want to undercut the U.S. military.
Obama’s key audience Wednesday is the American public. For his credibility with the public has gotten dangerously low. Obama was elected in 2008 as the un-Bush — a more thoughtful, less reckless leader. Yet the public always valued President George W. Bush’s resolve and decisiveness — qualities they don’t see in Obama. Qualities they are looking for now.
They see Obama as well-meaning but ineffectual. He doesn’t get results — on the economy, on immigration, on climate change. An ineffectual commander-in-chief is intolerable. That’s why he needs to give this speech.
“I just want the American people to understand the nature of the threat,” the president said to Chuck Todd Sunday on Meet the Press, “and how we’re going to deal with it and to have confidence that we’ll be able to deal with it.’’