Historically, one single, big issue defines an election.
That isn't quite the case this cycle, mostly because voters see problems at every turn. They feel like everything is going poorly: the economy (and their own economic security), Obamacare, spending, the crippling debt, immigration, management of government, and foreign policy. It’s shaping up to be the "chaos election."
Chaos, of course, brings us back to the president's foreign policy.
Time Magazine (and thousands of others) reported
on Obama's disastrous foreign policy admission yesterday:
President Barack Obama seemed to commit the worst of Washington gaffes Thursday when he updated the American people about the ongoing threat from Islamist militants wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria. "I don’t want to put the cart before the horse: we don’t have a strategy yet," Obama said of the effort to combat the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in its safe haven in Syria. Even liberal columnists, like Eugene Robinson, were stunned
I'd like to know whether the United States is at war with the Islamic State. I'd like to know why -- or why not. I'd like to know whether the goal of U.S. policy is to contain the jihadist militia or destroy it.
Nicholas Kristof, normally one of President Obama's biggest foreign policy cheerleaders, agreed:
CNN's Barbara Starr was also shocked
: "Let me be very clear, ISIS heard all of this." Starr was right, according to an IBT report
: "Several Twitter accounts widely believed to be ISIS-affiliated live-tweeted the president’s speech, even commenting on how much air time he has given the militant group."
that Senator Chris Murphy, a liberal, said the president must seek explicit authorization from Congress to widen the conflict:
This decision is too important to allow politics or elections to play a role. It may be inconvenient that ISIS has become a threat on the precipice of an election, but we have a responsibility as a coequal branch to do our constitutional job, regardless of the timing.
The story also noted, correctly, that many Democrats are worried. Privately, they have expressed concerns about a potential vote that could anger the party's war-weary base, or hand Republicans political ammunition.
In Alaska, Republican Senate candidate Dan Sullivan — a Lt. Colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and a former assistant secretary of state — offered a response to the president:
The Obama administration seriously underestimated the threat posed by ISIS to our national security. President Obama owes Congress and the American people a strategic plan to reverse the spread of terrorism in the region.Politico reported
that "Thursday’s messy press conference capped off a month of difficult public statements from Obama on foreign policy issues." That's a polite way of putting it. Americans are feeling less safe by the day; the administration’s bungling of foreign policy fuels that fear.
One thing is for certain, though. "We don’t have a strategy yet" might be the cleanest, simplest and most accurate description of President Obama's entire second term.