Leaders do not operate in a vacuum. When they make strategic adjustments, their opponents do, too. President Obama has prompted just such a pivot by Republicans.
They’re criticizing him not for the decisions he’s made but for the ones he hasn’t, and the ones he delayed. They are attacking him not as a liberal ideologue but as a man in full flight from any ideological definition. If they once said his plans were too big, they are now asking if he has any plans at all.
The immediate focus for the new GOP approach is the president’s extended deliberations over Libya, with criticism raining down from various points on the GOP spectrum.
Mitt Romney, a likely presidential candidate, issued a string of denunciatory adjectives — “tentative, indecisive, timid and nuanced” — to characterize Obama’s Libya policy. (Here’s hoping for an explanation of why being “nuanced” about complicated foreign policy choices is such a terrible thing.) Newt Gingrich called the administration “inept.”
And many conservative Republicans have joined left-of-center Democrats in asking why the president didn’t seek congressional authorization for the Libyan action. “The United States does not have a King’s army,” said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.)
But Republicans had started shifting their lines of attack against Obama before the controversy over Libya. They did so in response to Obama’s own moves since the 2010 election designed to place himself above partisan infighting in Congress and to cast him as a moderate, forward-looking, non-ideological voice trying to talk reason to politicians mired in the past’s unproductive bickering.
As a next-generation politician, they argue, Obama is untouched by these old quarrels and ready to move the nation beyond them.
- Why the GOP Is Obsessed With “Leadership” (themoderatevoice.com)
- Panderer-in-chief: Mitt Romney says Obama has too much nuance (dailykos.com)
- Potential GOP Presidential Hopefuls Criticize Obama On Libya Policy (huffingtonpost.com)
- You: Potential GOP candidates scold Obama on Libya (latimes.com)
- Newt Gingrich Acknowledges ‘Contradictions’ On His Libya Views, ‘I Was Trying To Follow Obama’ (blogs.abcnews.com)
- The GOP and the Total Absence of History (slog.thestranger.com)
- John Bolton: ‘Obama Is Too Smart, Too Sophisticated, And Too Nuanced To Believe In Victory In Libya’ (mediaite.com)
- The GOP’s War of Words Over Libya War (thedailybeast.com)
- E.J. Dionne: If You Want National Press As A Governor, Don’t Solve Problems — Just Keep Cutting (crooksandliars.com)
- The Latest Fiscal Denialist: E.J. Dionne (reason.com)
- Cenk Uygur Slams Gingrich and Rumsfeld for Having No Credibility to Criticize Actions in Libya (crooksandliars.com)