Poll Position: Is Obama getting short shrift for Libya?

The Libyan civil war appears to be reaching its climax, with the rebels having overrun Tripoli and Col. Moammar Gadhafi nowhere to be seen, only heard as he issues desperate calls to arms to extend his 42-year reign. An Associated Press dispatch Thursday began with this gruesome scene:

The streets where rebel fighters bombarded snipers loyal to Moammar Gadhafi were strewn with bullet-ridden corpses from both sides Thursday. Streams of blood ran down the gutters and turned sewers red.

At the Washington Post, columnist E.J. Dionne is concerned that President Obama isn’t getting the credit due him:

It’s remarkable how reluctant Obama’s opponents are to acknowledge that despite all the predictions that his policy of limited engagement could never work, it actually did.

Let it be said upfront that the rout of Gaddafi was engineered not by foreign powers but by a brave rebellion organized inside Libya by its own people.

But that is the point. The United States has no troops in Libya, which means our men and women in uniform do not find themselves at the center of — or responsible for — what will inevitably be a messy and possibly dangerous aftermath. Our forces did not suffer a single casualty. The military action by the West that was crucial to the rebels was a genuine coalition effort led by Britain and France. This was not a made-by-America revolution, and both we and the Middle East are better for that.

Is Obama getting too little credit for his Libya policy?

  • Yes, he was right to leave it to others (88 Votes)
  • Get back to me when blood stops running down Tripoli's gutters (30 Votes)
  • No, a lot of lives might have been saved if we'd led from the front (13 Votes)

Total Voters: 131

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It seems rather curious to complain that people aren’t rushing to give the president credit for not getting in the way of what others have done — that the rebels may have been successful thanks in largest part to the British and French, and Obama deserves kudos for giving them a chance to prove we’re a not-so-indispensable nation. As it’s been called, “leading from behind.”

Or does Dionne have a point? Perhaps Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham really are wrong to argue that America’s “failure…to employ the full weight of our airpower” meant the fighting dragged on for six months — rather than the “days, not weeks” Obama promised back in March. Perhaps the president was wise to risk failing in the mission in Libya, which was preventing mass civilian killings by the Gadhafi regime, rather than the dangers associated with taking a more robust role in the NATO operation (even if Dionne draws an obviously false choice between doing it Obama’s way and “the way we did things in Iraq”).

That’s this week’s poll position. Answer in the poll and in the comments thread below.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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63 comments Add your comment

Joel Edge

August 26th, 2011
5:35 am

I figure he’s getting the credit he’s due. We didn’t start it, didn’t lead it and will have little say in how it ends.

ByteMe

August 26th, 2011
6:07 am

Perhaps Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham really are wrong to argue that America’s “failure…to employ the full weight of our airpower” meant the fighting dragged on for six months

Perhaps those two ass-clowns would have mentioned maybe a couple years ago when they were sucking up to Gadhafi (I’ll go with your spelling) in Tripoli on a Senate trip that maybe the crazy guy should step down. But nooooooo…..

http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/08/14/idUSLE528109

Thank god McCain didn’t get elected… who knows how much more money would have gone to getting involved in other country’s civil wars just because McCain felt offended by the way they acted.

As to Obama: it was the right choice, give him credit for not wanting to waste more money than we already are on a country that doesn’t really have any strategic value to us. I would rather we had done LESS, not more. On the other hand, dropping bombs means we have to go build new ones, and that’s GOOD for employment! :)

DeborahinAthens

August 26th, 2011
6:24 am

No Republican will ever give President Obama credit for anything he does that is successful, and they will blame him for any failure. That’s the nature of the beast. I just glad McCain is not at the helm.

reebok

August 26th, 2011
6:41 am

As far as the Repubs are concerned, whatever path Obama takes is the wrong one. Things that go wrong on his watch are his fault. Things that go right on his watch happen in spite of him. That plays well in the deep South and Texas, but it’s not going to fool the rest of the country in 2012.

Fair Minded Liberal

August 26th, 2011
6:48 am

I Just wish he hadn’t engaged in a war that cost lives and fortune at all. Didn’t he win some sort of prize for not doing this kind of stuff!!
Also, the great disappointment has gone against his word yet again by empowering the Muslim Brotherhood!

Bill Orvis White

August 26th, 2011
7:02 am

Thank the Khaddafy-duck downfall to the honorable Pres. Ronald Wilson Reagan. Pres. Reagan’s policy of staring down evildoers worked every single time. Mr. Reagan led with a robust airpower and publicity campaign that showed REAL LEADERSHIP! Yes, it took time, but guess what? It worked! Also, thank the downfall of Communism to the honorable Pres. Reagan. If Hussein Downgrade Obama was .05% of the man that Mr. Reagan was, then WE THE PEOPLE would be seeing a real leader staring down the Castro brothers, Chavez and the Dear Leader. No, we have an installed amateur at the wheel steering this ship straight into an iceberg! No, this has nothing to do with Lil Hussein being an African-American. I believe that Mr. Herman Cain, a man of the same color, would be a much more effective president who would have stared down Khaddafy-duck and all of these Middle East terrorist leaders like Ahmadinejad. Nope, we have a rookie in the White House who will allow a major caliphate to form — from Tripoli all the way to Teheran over to Mogadishu and back into the Pacific Theater of the Philippines. Brace yourselves folks, because jihad is coming to our shores and there’s nothing that Hussein Downgrade Obama will do to protect you. I have been fortifying my bunker with a food/weapons/money cache and I won’t be around to protect all of you.
Amen,
Bill

Joel Edge

August 26th, 2011
7:03 am

“Things that go right on his watch”
As soon as something goes right, we’ll give him and the Dem Party credit. Till then….

Silent Majority No More

August 26th, 2011
7:07 am

Obama has no plan on anything! He waits for others to come up with something! He is just a community organizer, a Socialist and hangs with radical leftist! He can read nice speechs that others wrote and his smile decieves the dumb masses! He is an empty suit, clueless, couldn’t run a sandwich shop and has become the worst President in American History!!

Jill Dorvis Black

August 26th, 2011
7:09 am

Thank you for that bit of humor this morning, Mr. White. I wish you well in your bunker, franks and beans for all!

Man Behind the Curtain

August 26th, 2011
7:10 am

“As soon as something goes right, we’ll give him and the Dem Party credit. Till then….”

Would bringing bin Laden to justice qualify, or has amnesia already set in?

Man Behind the Curtain

August 26th, 2011
7:12 am

Silent Majority No More: Close your mouth, your drooling.

Dan

August 26th, 2011
7:18 am

Silent Majority is 100% correct, a bullseye accurate description.

Man Behind the Curtain

August 26th, 2011
7:26 am

I guess Obama could have sent Gadhafi a photo album of Michelle. That would have shown leadership.

ByteMe

August 26th, 2011
7:26 am

Silent Majority and Dan are projecting their own inabilities on others. You’re both empty suit clueless constitutional law professors who graduated at the top of your Harvard law class, right boys?

Man Behind the Curtain

August 26th, 2011
7:29 am

“He can read nice speechs that others wrote and his smile decieves the dumb masses!”

That obviously can’t be true. He didn’t fool you, did he? Or your admirer “Dan”.

Joe the Plutocrat

August 26th, 2011
7:31 am

perhaps the answer lies in a political process (what some would call “governing”) that is more sober and dare I say; “professional” and less carny-barker/pro wrestling. think about it (left and right). words like “blame” and “credit” are for pundits and gadlfies and they are directed toward the insipid, intellectually challenged, sound-bite hungry, dimwitted American electorate. here’s my take; we can criticize Obama when he dons a flight suit, lands on an aircraft carrier and proclaims the “mission” in Libyia, “accomplished”.

jconservative

August 26th, 2011
7:38 am

What is the love affair America has with building nations for those of the Islamic faith?

Clinton. Then Bush. And now Obama.

And nation building has its supporters in both political parties.

Yet those same supporters of Muslim nation building are opponents of Muslims building mosques on their own property with their own money.

Strange.

JDW

August 26th, 2011
7:40 am

I think he got it about right and despite Kyle’s protestations that comparing this strategy to Iraq is a false I think it is dead on.

What was done in Libya is employ the minimum US resource possible and require the maximum from the people on the ground, the ones really impacted. Now in Iraq we might have had to employ more resource to meet the minimum required but wouldn’t that have been better than the debacle that unfolded and will continue to haunt us for decades?

JF McNamara

August 26th, 2011
7:48 am

There are no Americans dead, and it had our desired outcome. We aren’t under any pressure to build a new government or expend any money there if we don’t want to.

Those who argue that it didn’t take leadership don’t remember the debate over this. Republicans were foaming at the mouth to be active and and he said No. Kyle wrote at least two articles calling Obama wrong for not intervening and then doing do too late.

Those who argue it took too long, the American revolution lasted from 1776 to 1781 (5 years). For those who argue that the price was too high in lives, I say the price that is too high for Libya’s freedom is an unlimited amount of Libyans and Zero Americans.

ByteMe

August 26th, 2011
7:51 am

the American revolution lasted from 1776 to 1781 (5 years)

But I can create lots of carnage in “World of Warcraft” in a few hours!! Why did it have to take 6 months to fight for a bunch of sand??

:LOL:

Joe the Plutocrat

August 26th, 2011
7:56 am

folks, I hate to break it to you, but there is no difference between a neo-conservative (Bush I and Bush II) and neo-liberal (Clinton, Obama) when it comes to warfighting or “feeding the beast”. the POTUS answers to the oligarchs (mostly on Wall Street). backwarda** Muslim theocracies don’t watch MTV, by iPods, etc., etc.; so we have to use the armed forces of the United States to ensure that they become “free” to consume as we do; and of course, there’s always the oil and other resources, which eventually become the “property” of a multi-national or “banker” (commodities trader). Washington’s farewell addresses warned of this, but we were too busy “spinning” Washington’s legacy, which begs; did he not say; “I cannot tell a lie”? (was he lying at his farewell address?)

Joe the Plutocrat

August 26th, 2011
7:59 am

and speaking of “spin”, am I the only person who can’t wrap his head around the fact that in America in 2011, there is a television program that features a “no spin zone” and during this segment of programming, the host ’spins’ the news from the neo-con perspective? I know, I know, First Amendment…

Get on with it

August 26th, 2011
8:08 am

To DeborahinAthens, Whos in charge of the missles, bombs, mustand gas, nucs? Whos in charge of the oil pipeline? Yea thought so. This is not as good as you think. This President does nothing to protect this country. Those missles and such will make you feel real good that Obama sits on his hands in Marthas Vinyards and lets third world countries and terriorist nations grab control of the above.

Obama is going down as the President that allowed America to fall. Mark my words. You will one day decide your very very stupid in your support of the lowely no nothing leader of the once free world.

Call it like it is

August 26th, 2011
8:12 am

Hell, I’m just glad to see other countrys step up to the plate and do something. Right or Left in charge enough is enough of sending our boys and girls all over the world to be policeman. England, Gemany, France talk a lot but do little. Let them shed the blood and spend the money if they choose too. Let them feel the heat from the rest of the world bitch’n that they need to mind their business and stay out of the middle east.

I’m glad we stayed out of it.

carlosgvv

August 26th, 2011
8:14 am

Mitch McConnell set the Republican tone sometime ago when he said that his party’s number one goal was the defeat of Obama. Nothing has changed since then. The Republicans have been and will continue to give Obama zero credit for anything good he does and 100% blame for everything that goes wrong, regardless of whether it’s actually his fault.

BW

August 26th, 2011
8:16 am

The real question is what should be the US official policy regarding foreign intervention in sovereign nations. These issues are always grey and attempting to make Iraq and Afghanistan black and white has cost lots of human treasure as well. I don’t have the answer to this question but I’m curious of the prevailing thought on this.

interested observer

August 26th, 2011
8:19 am

A president can’t win in this situation. He minimized American involvement after the beginning, as many, particularly Republicans, expressed opposition to getting involved. So, some will criticize him for the fact that he used troops at all, while others will criticize him for not using them enough.

Don’t expect the opposition party to ever give a president credit, but to always issue blame. Neither approach is very accurate.

Rightwing Troll

August 26th, 2011
8:23 am

“I have been fortifying my bunker with a food/weapons/money cache and I won’t be around to protect all of you.
Amen,
Bill”

Thanks, but I don’t need your help protecting myself. This country needs protection from the likes of you however… You can go back to hiding under your porch, while the people of Libya will determine thier own future, without the likes of you, as it should be.

Tiberius

August 26th, 2011
8:30 am

Couldn’t vote in your poll, Kyle, as my option, “Never should have interfered in the first place” was not among the choices.

The next person who can make the case that we should have been involved in an armed conflict in a foreign nation that didn’t constitute a threat to our national security will be the first person.

Voice of Reason

August 26th, 2011
8:31 am

For once, I have to give Obama at least a little credit. I personally don’t think we should have gotten involved at all, even in the small capacity which we did. However, Obama avoided putting troops on the ground, whether it was his decision or if he was bullied into it. Thank goodness we didn’t get involved in another conflict that is none of our business. And no matter how much I agree with the right on fiscal issues, McCain is, as Byte Me so eloquently put it, an ass-clown.

Joe the Plutocrat

August 26th, 2011
8:36 am

B.O.W., you must be a former Boy Scout (”Be Prepared”). but here’s my question to all the survivalists; why “money”? if your scenario hold true, food, ammo and water will be the currency. in fact, ammo and firearms hold their value better than the dollar these days, and it’s not like if you run out of canned beans, bottles water or buckshot you’re going to be able to go to Wal-Mart to use your “money” to buy more supplies. and again, if the poop hits the fan at the level for which you are preparing; you’re likely to need only 2 ’supplies’: a .38 and one round.

It's Obvious

August 26th, 2011
8:38 am

The same people that proclaim we can’t afford to increase our debt are now saying we should have expended more resources in toppling Qaddafi. The President took a gamble and it worked, give the man credit and let’s move on.

And to those that are parroting the worst President meme, do you not remember 3 short years ago when Bush left office after our financial sector collapsed, the country stuck in two wars that collectively cost over $1 trillion, a surplus turned into a deficit and the emotional wounds of allowing the worst terror strike in our nation’s history? The worst President in history title has been retired my friends.

Rightwing Troll

August 26th, 2011
8:48 am

No they don’t remember anything beyond the last 2 years, and it’s on display here and over at Bookman’s on a daily basis…

DannyX

August 26th, 2011
8:49 am

Was there no aircraft carrier available? Did someone forget to order the “Mission Accomplished” banner? No flight suit to jump into?

Tiberius

August 26th, 2011
8:56 am

It’s Obvious, your partisanship is a bit obvious in that you fail to give credit to the real causes of the things you mentioned, while exaggerating them as well.

Despite the whining on the left Bush and his policies were not responsible for the collapse of our financial sector, except that he didn’t attempt to reverse the disastrous policies of Carter, Reagan and Clinton who decided that it would be a good thing for Americans who couldn’t afford to buy homes to be able to with money from banks who would never have loaned them money in the first place, then allowing the financial sector to be able to use those bad loans in their investment portfolios.

Yes, Iraq was a huge error, Afghanistan slightly less so. Should have bombed the terrorist camps into the Stone Age and told the Taliban they’d get the same if they didn’t clean up their country.

There was never any surplus, despite Presidential and Congressional crowing of the same.

And “allowing” 9/11? Really? One word – pathetic. The fact remains that if Clinton had been allowed to run for a third term, the exact same outcome would have occurred, as this government had no ability to process information and share it between rival agencies that might have done something to prevent the attacks, and a policy that remains in effect today that doesn’t target the threat.

JKL2

August 26th, 2011
9:12 am

I’ll give the president credit for doing nothing. With a proven track record of indecision and cowardice, I would expect nothing else from him. At least this follows his call for global unity by wrecking another country besides our own this time. Nice job leading from the little chair in the corner again Mr President.

Joe the Plutocrat

August 26th, 2011
9:19 am

Tiberius, you’re only half right re: the meltdown. grab a chair, you might learn something. near the end of the Clinton presidency, he signed into law the Commodities Futures whatchamcallit act, which, among other things, repealed a Depression era law call Glass-Steagal (or Steagal – Glass). in response to the ‘29 stock market crash, it was determined that Banks need to be Banks and investment houses need to be investment houses and this is because banks do not need to be “risking” deposits on tricky, non-traditional investments. for example, some individuals like to play the market, while others are more “put it in a mattress”. but I digress. Clinton publicly opposed this bill, but signed it; telling Americans any veto would be over-ridden, which was true, as this was a classic “bipartisan” buggering of we the People. the new law allowed banks, which historically were not in the securities business; to write mortgages, then bundle them and sell them as securities (literally “mortgage backed securities”). in addition, banks could (and some would) buy “insurance” against default in the form of derivitives. ipso, facto; it became “good business” for banks to write as many loans as possible, because A – the value of the loan was take on the “front end” as the loans were sold, and be, even as they KNEW the loans were bad, they didn’t care because they could buy insurance against default). so; at the end of the day, it was the fault of the banks, who gave mortgages to “anyone with a pulse” (”no-docs”) because they didn’t care if the borrower defaulted, once the loan left the bank’s books. I agree that this was all kind of in place before Bush was sworn in, but his Sec Treas (former Goldman-Sachs) advocated TARP, which benefitted G-S to the tune of something like $90 billion, and the very fact that Bush bought into the “too big to fail” plea, and authorized TARP does put him at the scene of the crime. again, he didn’t “plan the burglary” but he was the “guard on duty” when the robbery went down.

JKL2

August 26th, 2011
9:20 am

Joe- Muslim theocracies don’t watch MTV

Obviously never spent much time in the desert. Of their 400 satellite TV channel, half of them are MTV(pretending that MTV still played music videos). Their youth are “not their Daddy’s Muslims” and there is a big cultural conflict to say the least.

JKL2

August 26th, 2011
9:27 am

carlosgvv- The Republicans have been and will continue to give Obama zero credit for anything good he does and 100% blame for everything that goes wrong

So let me get this straight: You’re upset that obama isn’t getting enough credit for doing nothing while at the same time, you’re complaining Republicans still haven’t bought into your “It’s Bush’s fault” mantra giving obama a free pass on anything that occurs during his administration?

I’ll start giving obama credit for doing something right (given he actually HAS to do something to recieve credit) as soon as you wrap your head around the notion he should take the blame for things he does wrong.

Tiberius

August 26th, 2011
9:30 am

Joe, as you might know from my time over in the “Children’s Table”, i.e. the Bookman blog, you’ll not find me defending much in the way of the Bush presidency (or for that matter, ANY presidency). And I had the repeal of Glass-Steagal in mind when I stated “then allowing the financial sector to be able to use those bad loans in their investment portfolios.”

But Congress is the key to bad legislation and policies, and has been for the past 60 years or so since the era of the weak Executive branch began. The worst offenders are the ones who create the laws, then come those that refuse to get rid of them when they are proven to be bad policy.

1961_Boomer

August 26th, 2011
9:33 am

This is Obama fence sitting. It is what he does. At this point, the whole place might just blow up into a sectarian blood bath. Heck, Iraq STILL might blow up into a sectarian blood bath. For Obama to say anything now means that he risks a GWB “Mission Accomplished” moment.

Obama should be commended for keeping our troops out of Libya and for not committing resource long term for its rebuilding. He has not taken credit, but (also) he is not on the hook for a successful long term outcome. Frankly, this IS the role of the U.S. as we move forward. We cannot police everywhere and nation build every country in the world. All we can do is encourage a little self-help, and hope for the best.

It's Obvious

August 26th, 2011
9:36 am

So let me get this straight Tiberius, Bush was not responsible for the economic collapse, his predecessors were, but somehow Obama is now shouldering the blame for its results? And how was 2000’s $230 billion surplus really a deficit?

We will never know what a Constitutionally restricted 3rd Clinton term would have done with a Presidential Daily Briefing titled Obama determined to strike in the U.S., but it could not have been worse than Bush’s complete non-reaction. I am sure that you would give Obama a pass if something similar would happen to him.

DannyX

August 26th, 2011
9:45 am

“Their youth are “not their Daddy’s Muslims” and there is a big cultural conflict to say the least.”

The Muslim youth have been conquered by our liberal media, its not your Daddy’s war. American liberals have bombed them with Twitter, Facebook, music, iphones, computes and movies. The Muslim youth want American liberalism in their lives.

Of course we could do it like Bush, carpet bomb shock and awe in the name of Jesus, with a trillion dollar price tag.

Thank you liberals!

Tiberius

August 26th, 2011
9:46 am

1961, less than 2 years after we exit Iraq, it WILL be torn by sectarian violence and be a country in worse shape then when we invaded it.

One year following our exit in Afghanistan, the Taliban will be back in power.

And all those American lives will have been wasted.

carlosgvv

August 26th, 2011
9:49 am

JKL2

It’s obvious you don’t have anything “straight”. Bin Laden was killed and Kadafi ousted on Obama’s watch. Is that nothing? I never said he should not take the blame for anything wrong he has done. Finally, elevating Bush to political sainthood clearly shows you are unable to get anything straight. Please work on you reading comprension and try to get your facts straight before you put this kind of foolish and ill-considered post here again.

Tiberius

August 26th, 2011
9:57 am

“So let me get this straight Tiberius, Bush was not responsible for the economic collapse, his predecessors were, but somehow Obama is now shouldering the blame for its results? And how was 2000’s $230 billion surplus really a deficit?”

The Congresses under his predecessors were responsible, as were the Presidents who pushed for the policies that encouraged homeownership to people who couldn’t afford them.

And while this embarrassment of a President didn’t cause the problem, he hasn’t done a thing to change the policies and in fact, is trying to enhance them, which merely makes them worse. And the Congress that was in place during his first 2 years are guilty as well.

The “surplus” in 2000 was a smoke and mirrors accounting trick, aided and abetted by the GOP-led Congress who also used SS Trust funds to account for that “surplus”. It was a remarkable achievement that a Congress could get us to what was, in fact, a balanced budget, but there was no actual surplus.

Don't Tread

August 26th, 2011
10:07 am

While I’m all for getting rid of the current regime, who’s to say the one that follows it won’t be as hostile to us?

Obama threw them a bone by giving them some assistance via air and cruise missile support, but was right in not committing our ground forces. Time will tell if this was money well spent.

It's Obvious

August 26th, 2011
10:16 am

As long as you agree that this “accounting trick” is how the surplus/deficit has been calculated for years, I don’t disagree with your statement.

I would, however, argue that policies encouraging home ownership were anywhere near the influence of an unregulated financial system, driven by the fees derived from securitized mortgages, and the willful ignorance of the ratings agencies towards subprime assets, had in causing underwriting standards to collapse. The huge fees that were generated were completely disentangled from the long-term risk generated which caused the collapse. Look at charts showing home ownership as a percentage of households in this country. It was a slow ramp for decades and then shot up during the 5 years prior to the collapse. The federal government makes for a great scapegoat, but this was pure unadulterated greed at work. Was this greed all Bush’s fault, of course not, Clinton, Bush, Sr. and Reagan were all complicit in deregulating these markets as well.

ragnar danneskjold

August 26th, 2011
10:22 am

When one “leads from behind” one does not expect followers.

Stevie Ray

August 26th, 2011
10:25 am

Much bloodshed to follow. Akin to Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran et all, Egypt will pick up where it left of in the late 1960’s. Tribal civil war is logical post revolution event. It’s about religious differences and real estate. The prior regimes did have the effect of quelling these issues but they are nowhere near ready for democracy…no matter how many lives and how much money our democratic evangelicals invest….sad that our foreign policy has virtually no payback for taxpayers investment…