Will the Arab Spring Rain on Obama’s Re-election?

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Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Barack Obama heads back into the Oval Office after making a statement about the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC., on Sept. 12, 2012.

Until now, the Arab Spring has felt like a wash in domestic political terms. Conservatives have charged Obama with “losing” Egypt to the Islamists after mishandling the region’s politics. Just last month, Mitt Romney complained that Obama “abandoned the [George W. Bush] freedom agenda,” adding that “we are seeing today a whirlwind of tumult in the Middle East in part because these nations did not embrace the reforms that could have changed the course of their history, in a more peaceful manner.” But the tumult and the rise of Islamist leaders didn’t seem very threatening to most Americans — at least not before the deaths in Benghazi this week.
Libya is a special case, thanks to our military intervention and the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. But even that country is a political puzzle: Republicans are obsessed with the concept of “leading from behind” as a metaphor for U.S. policy generally, but it’s not clear that war-weary Americans mind letting other countries take the lead for a spell. Many Republicans are also trapped by their own flip-floppery on whether Obama should have gotten involved in Gaddafi’s overthrow. Obama, meanwhile, doesn’t brag much about the unhinged dictator’s demise. In Charlotte, the ratio of Gaddafi mentions to Osama bin Laden mentions was about 1 to 50. Perhaps that’s because the White House has always feared the Libyan revolution could turn dark as it did this week.

(MORE: After Benghazi Consulate Attack, What’s Next for U.S. Relations with Libya and Egypt?)

The question now is whether the Arab Spring might become a political liability for President Obama. The deaths of four Americans in Libya will certainly raise hard questions about whether security was adequate. But Mitt Romney can hardly argue that we were better off with Gaddafi in power (not least because he celebrated the dictator’s fall). Odds are also good that Obama will exact some retributive “justice” for the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and his colleagues, possibly enhancing his Commander in Chief stature.

(PHOTOS: Political Pictures of the Week, Sept. 7-14)

Cairo may be the bigger danger for the President — and for America. It’s possible that Libya entailed a small group of terrorists exploiting weak security — a horrible but isolated event in a place of limited strategic importance. Egypt by contrast is a nation of 82 million people that borders Israel and has been a historic rival of our rival, Iran. The problem there is not a band of armed terrorists but rather anti-Americanism in the country’s government — including a President who wants the release of a jailed cleric behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — and, judging by the crowds outside the U.S. embassy, within a substantial segment of the population. It was jarring to hear Obama say this week that he doesn’t quite consider Egypt an ally anymore.

(MORE: Timeline: What Happened in Libya and How the U.S. Reacted)

What Romney can do with all this isn’t terribly apparent, though. He can repeat his strained charge that Obama has “apologized” for the U.S.’s behavior around the world, demonstrating weakness and inviting aggression. But although bellicosity and jingoism were winning political themes for Republicans a few years ago, it’s far from clear that Americans today are in any mood for chest-thumping and an escalation of tensions in the Middle East. He can insist that Obama cut off the $1.5 billion in mostly military aid the U.S. sends to Cairo. But he’d likely take heat from Republican foreign policy elites who believe maintaining ties with the Egyptian military is crucial.

Romney’s best hope might be to let the television images do the talking. Footage of angry, American-flag-burning mobs could have a powerful effect on the white male working-class voters whom Romney is courting — leaving them with a sense, however inchoate, that Obama doesn’t have a handle on things. (The storming of an American embassy à la Tehran 1979, though Romney couldn’t possibly hope for such an outcome, might transform the campaign.) But ultimately there’s no predicting. The presidential campaign debate tends to be simplistic and crude. The complex implications of the Arab Spring, and its darkening, defy the familiar frame. And that must make both campaigns unusually nervous.

MORE: Obama, Romney Trade Tough Words over Attacks

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JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

"Here was ­America under attack, with four dead on foreign soil. And here was Romney, defiantly refusing to adopt a tone of sobriety, solemnity, or seriousness, instead attempting to score cheap political points, doubling down on his criticism.” John Heilemann in New York Magazine.  

 

NitWitMitt Romney = Economic MELTDOWN/DEPRESSION + WORLD WAR III = NUCLEAR ARMAGEDDON 

 

REGISTER and VOTE for President OBAMA who PROTECTS America's MIDDLE CLASS. VOTE the DEMOCRATIC TICKET to STOP the GRIDLOCK in D.C.

73yearoldVet
73yearoldVet

"Will the Arab Spring Rain on Obama’s Re-election?"

YES

TheBillTheCat
TheBillTheCat

I have to say that I hate that this is all coming about right before an election. The timing is not in our favor. I would really prefer to have a president that is not hamstrung with a presidential race and not have to be overly concerned about public opinion when it comes to taking effective action. I imagine that every action is now measured against both foreign policy and against how it will affect Obama's chance to be reelected.

BTW, I would ascribe this dilemma to whichever president is running for his second term. It is a reality of the situation.

Phaerisee
Phaerisee

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson has pledged 100 million of his personal fortune to defeat Barack Obama.

So let's do the math: According to a new report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Adelson could see up to $2 billion in savings under Mitt Romney's tax plan versus the President's plan. That's how much Romney's policies would favor millionaires and billionaires.  I don't want the general election decided by money in the same way the GOP primaries were.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

 

superlogi
superlogi

You don't even know what that tax plan is, so cut the crap.

53underscore3
53underscore3

Neither do you!

53underscore3
53underscore3

I know stuperlogi, BL.  I just wanted to poke him with a sharp stick to see if he snarls.

It's a hobby of mine.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

53_3 do you know anything about Logi?? He might be the angriest man on this site. He and LL.  Discussing with him might be a great waste of time on your part. He is hyper partisan and very angry.

superlogi
superlogi

That's the point, dumba$$. No one does. In fact, even Romney has never suggested what loopholes he would close to make the tax plan revenue neutral.

paulejb
paulejb

Phaerisee,

Odd. I don't recall these same complaints in 2008 while Barack Hussein Obama was burying John McCain with ads paid for with $750 million in donated cash. Barry got a million bucks from Goldman Sachs alone back then.

McCain took public financing and played by the rules. Obama said he would play by the same rules but then, as he usually does, he reneged on that promise.

"Commentary: Obama breaks promise on campaign finance"

http://articles.cnn.com/2008-1... 

You are indeed a Pharisee, Phaerisee.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Except Goldman Sachs does not stand to gain anything tax wise by spending so much money on Obama. But they did get their guy Geithner in there so they did get something. Like a slow walk of everything we need to do and minimal regulation to booth.

Dems sure are not immune to the pervasive influence of money.

Which is interesting; you seem to hint that money does mean something although you have already staked out a position that money is alright, but you have backed away from the idea of 100% transparency.

MrObvious
MrObvious

You are absolutely right that companies like Goldman Sachs have infiltrated both parties and placed their candidates in political power going back to Reagan.

The results have been deregulation and a perforation of our tax code and legislation that caused the type of economic meltdown we saw in 2007.  And even as the economy crashed Goldman Sachs made sure their inside man in the Bush admin bailed them out as they have done with someone like Geithner.

The corrosive nature of money in politics.

BTW, I noticed your craven need to only point fingers at Dems. I blame both parties for this mess.

paulejb
paulejb

MrObvious,

If there is any company in the world that resembles Ian Fleming's S.P.E.C.T.R.E. it is Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs executives rotate in an out of the government spinning their nefarious plots.

Take, for example, Jon Corzine. He is a big donation bundler for Barack Obama who made over a billion dollars in client money disappear without a trace from his now defunct MF Global. What are the consequences? Nothing, no consequences, as he continues to bundle cash for Obama. Before Jon Corzine entered politics and outright thievery, he made a fortune as a Goldman Sachs exec.

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

Like the helicopter fiasco of Carter in Tehran, the murder of the American ambassador will definitely alter the political scenario in favor of Romney. Romney has reacted like a statesman after the murder of the American ambassador in Libya.. Churchill always opposed appeasement. Obama is like Chamberlain and we know what happened after the Munich Agreement. Instead of condemning thugs and murderers, the Obama administration issued an Embassy Statement attacking free thinkers, movie-makers and cartoonists. The Middle East after the so-called Arab Spring is now in the hands of terrorist outfits such as the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and others. Sweet-coated words , like the embassy statement, cannot free them from terrorist activities. Obama thinks Osama is dead. But the slogan of the rioters in the streets of Cairo, Benghazi and Tehran was "WE ARE THE OSAMAS." So Romney, like Churchill and  Reagan, has reacted like a mature and Machiavellian politician.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

Romney has reacted like a statesman after the murder of the American ambassador in Libya

So you think it represents 'Statemanship" to put your foreign service corps in mortal danger in order to defend a pornographer.

Good to know.......

tma_sierrahills
tma_sierrahills

"although bellicosity and jingoism were winning [GOP] political themes ... it’s far from clear that Americans today are in any mood for chest-thumping and an escalation of tensions in the Middle East."

Exactly. Not voting for open-borders Obama, but many GOP leaders repeatedly imply toughness alone will prevent future wars, apparently having failed to notice the countless terrorists willing to blow themselves to smithereens. So we are going to scare them how?

MrObvious
MrObvious

Deflect them with our exceptional Aura.

eliking
eliking

Arab spring is an accomplishment.

We helped the Libyan people replace a dictator who ordered Americans killed with a democratically elected government that is actively working with us to hunt down those who killed Americans.

As far as Egypt goes, it's a bit more mixed, but I would rather have a democratically elected non-ally non-enemy than a friendly dictator who oppresses his people and engenders hatred towards the US. Long term, supporting brutal dictatorships just doesn't work out well for us.

And no, it won't rain on Obama's parade, so far it's been flooding Romney's :)

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

From the looks of it, no matter what Huntsman says, I know he will NOT be voting for Romney. I just watched Huntsman on an interview.  He knows Romney is bad news for America. He is a security risk and will cause international disaster if he ever smells the WH.

Like most folks who have been up close to that DOLT,  Romney, they know he is just an ambitious, entitled LOON. Romney stinks. He cannot handle MA, how can he handle any international crisis? Heck, he could not even do a European tour without incident.

I do not know why people keep calling him intelligent. He made money doing something fairly simple. He had a TON OF CAPITAL from his Dad. To us in MA, he was a step removed from a dunce. If it was not a canned answer, he had no response. He is no better than Palin. Romney is NOT SMART.

superlogi
superlogi

Niether are you.  Why demonstrate it?

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

Hahaha..SuperLOG, I don't know how many times I have to tell you. I know you think liberals are stupid, and they are not. Although I am not a liberal, I can tell you have decided that I am.

Anyway,  I am super bright and hard working!  I have documentation of various IQ testing conducted on me from grade school. And a lot of degrees that attest to my commitment to intellectual rigor, and my stellar intellect. For example,  I passed my SAT in 10th grade (and went to college from there) with an excellent score. And prior to that I had been moved ahead in two grades. Hahaha..

I went straight to college and became a lawyer in record time--before I started pursuing advanced degrees. I am very lettered and bright. I also work very very hard because I love the Law.

It is not bragging or boasting, it is a very simple fact. It does not make me better or worse, because quite honestly, I value kindness and Godliness above intellect. I would rather associate with people who have good solid morals, love and kindness, rather than associate with some super smart folks. Intellect is like looks... so friggin what? It does not make you better or worse. It is what it is-- like the color of your eyes, and hair. God gives these attributes. He knows best.   

Anyway, you are a grouchy and angry old dude, and your opinions of me... hmmmm... are old. So I don't care. I mean, really.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

Hahaha... I am not windy. Whenever I provide you a detailed explanation that debunks your remarks, you come up with "windy".

Providing someone with information is not an index that you care about what they think. For example, I tell you I am a woman. What does that mean? That I care whether my being a woman concerns you one way or another?? Hahaha...

Gramps, you might want to try a dose of happiness, and less gloom, doom and anger. Life is S W E E T.

superlogi
superlogi

Liberals are ignorant, but progressives are just plain stupid.  And, for someone who doesn't care what I think, you're awfully windy.  Anyway, my daddy once told me after he caught me bragging about something I did, that if you're that good, someone else will tell you.  Let them.

rokinsteve
rokinsteve

When 3,000 Americans were murdered on 9/11 all Americans stood together with

Pres. Bush.  Now 11 years later 4 Americans are murdered and conservatives

attack Pres. Obama and the rest of America?  I label all conservatives who believe

this traitors and cowards.

superlogi
superlogi

Well, you'll have to admit he has gone around the world, kissing a$$holes a$$holes and begging pardon for American atrocities he perceives America and not he Barak Hussein Obama has committed on the rest of the world.  The bottom line is, he's weakened America in the eyes of our friends and enemies alike, and those chickens are coming home to roost.  And with regard to treachery and cowardice, you don't release classified material to bolster your image as a macho man while at the same time putting the people who protect us in jeopardy.

drinkeroftherye
drinkeroftherye

Right, they should have stood with the rest of us like we stood as soldiers died daily in Iraq and Afganistan. We didn't criticize as they died.

superlogi
superlogi

Yeah, all you American liberals stood by Bush, before you didn't and of course, your record of standing by people fighting the country's battles is well documented and notorious.

Yeah, Barry the Warrior Prince. I'm really impressed as are the people that actually took Bin Laden down. Have another drink, drinker.

drinkeroftherye
drinkeroftherye

Barack doesn't just stand by people fighting the country's battles, he joins them. While Bush was cheering from the sidelines, our warrior president has put over 3000 on his Kill List and had the drones take them out regardless of what country they wer hiding in. And of course, one president talked about getting bin Laden and one candidate said it wasn't worth spending a billion dollars, but this President got the job done. Thanks to BHO, Osama sleeps with the fishes. FORWARD March

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

NUTCASE Romney STOP WASTING your campaign’s money, and our TIME. Go gentle into that good night, now.

Anwar Tamimi
Anwar Tamimi

4 dies in Libya = +4 pt to mitt , is this way you running your candidacy Mr mitt thats the way republicanism think, trading with peoples lives  .

new coming president is best to be a Democratic  

Harvybing
Harvybing

Obama was too busy campaigning to get his daily security briefings.   He had advance warnings about an attack 48 hours prior to the attack, yet he either didn't get that info because he missed the briefing OR he made a conscious decision to NOT address it.  In either case, people died as a result of his incompetence.

http://wizbangblog.com/2012/09...

superlogi
superlogi

Hey, the fun is being President, not actually doing the job.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 Thousands died under Presidents Bush's watch.  And then he killed thousands more with his lies about WMD. And decimated our economy by fighting 2 wars at the same time.

Bush was a failure. He could not even catch OBL who admitted that he had orchestrated 9/11

Harvybing
Harvybing

 I didn't realize that Bush was running in this election

drinkeroftherye
drinkeroftherye

Bush was a wimp. Example, he only authorized the killing of 200 in Pakistan, that others targeted, with drones in 6 years. Our warrior President, Barack has selected his own targets for his Kill List and taken out over 3000 in Pakastan, Yemen and Somalia with his drones. FORWARD March

drinkeroftherye
drinkeroftherye

Bush was a pussy, BHO is warrior. Bush got at best 200 that others targeted with drones. Barack does his own selecting on his Kill List and has baged over 3000 in half the time with his drones. Forward March.

WAC15
WAC15

I think the people of America are rethinking their Foreign Policies with respect to the Middle East....as it stands right now, America is not getting value for the amount of tax dollas they pump into Middle East Foreign Aid .

America faces may more problems at home and I thnk Obama understands that and is trying very hard to get a handle on it. Romney on the other hand is playing a dirty hand , while American people are in very hard economic times. This is my opinion, as an outsider in Canada looking in.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 Romney stinks.  I have been writing it here for months. He does not CARE about anyone. He drove our economy into the ground in MA, and on top of it all, he mocked us as our State continued to struggle. For the last 2 years of his governance, Romney was out of state for 200 days.  He just wants to be president at all costs, not because he wants to serve, but because he thinks he deserves it.  

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

Though it is nervous-making to have this intruding into the campaign, presumably the only way it can hurt Obama is if it sends people running into Romney's arms.  Nothing that's happened so far is likely to do that.

Romney might have managed this if he'd kept his mouth shut, but of course he hasn't.  His rule seems to be: "If there's information the voters really need, have a hidden plan and don't tell them.  If  revealing my thinking will hurt my cause, then tell them how naive I am."

kiefo
kiefo

How inspired have been the animals in Libya and Egypt by the human debris of Obama's violent "Occupy Wall Street" terrorist crime wave and its murderers, rapists, rapists of children, child prostitution rings, child prostitution ring pimps, burners of American flags, America haters, al Qaeda lovers, 9/11 Truthers, violent rioters, violent assaulters, violent assaulters of police, violent vandals, bridge bombing terrorists, public defecators, public masturbatrs, public urinators, virulent anti-Semites, drug dealers, thieves, head lice infestation spreaders, tuberculosis epidemic carriers and just general, run-of-the-mill human filth? 

Can we get any of Obama's useful idiots (i.e., the entire White House/Washington/New York/American press corps) to ask?

kiefo (aka the artist formerly known as textee)

superlogi
superlogi

Between Hillary not wanting to be seen as a wimp and France wanting to keep their energy gravy train alive, they convinced the huckster who masquerades as President to unilaterally commit NATO to a regime change, without even consulting Congress as the Law of the Land demands.  Will an ambassador and three other Americans killed in the aftermath, including a demonstration of POTUS's great concern by traveling to a Las Vegas campaign event, rain on Barry's parade?  One can only hope.  Is this who you really want to be leader of the free world?  I guess we'll see if the electorate was just ignorant in the last election or just plain unfixably stupid.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 I read one of your posts, and saw that you are an old man. I guess that explains why you are so grouchy.  :)

However, it does not excuse your refusal to base your remarks on fact. Assuming Obama were such a bad CIF, which he is not, ROMNEY WAS A HORRIBLE GOVERNOR and knows NOTHING about any foreign affairs. He will do whatever he thinks is expedient. He has no rudder, just a fevered desire to be president, that's all.

For goodness sake, will your grouchiness and rabid hyper partisanship lead you to vote for anyone instead of Obama. Romney 's record shows that he is a HORRIBLE option.

From your comments, you would probably vote for a goat. That does not show any intellect or patriotism, my old friend.  

superlogi
superlogi

Having a degree in law and being stupid is, in fact, consistent. On the other hand two of my relatives have avoided it.  One having becoming a commercial real estate specialist and my niece who's a prosecutor.  You, I have simply written off as a no mind. On the other hand, I'd have to admit most legal begals are not only stupid but couldn't tell the truth if their live were dependent on it.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

Superlog, I am not sure what part of my statement you have categorized so harshly. :) Is it because I said you were old? Are you not old? We will all grow old someday, so why are you so defensive? I am happy to mature chronologically, every year.  Thanks be to God.

Gramps, you keep on spouting anti-Obama rhetoric even though Romney is an inept drone who destroyed our economy in MA, without an iota of compunction. It does not matter to you, and you would gladly vote for a goat and thrust our country into hell because you hate Obama. That is NOT patriotic. I am a patriot. You are not.  

In addition, your remark about lawyers was astonishing.... if you do not know there are some stupid people in every profession, then you have more problems, than you know. I laughed when I read it though. You seemed so angry. Do you know Oscar the grouch on Sesame street?  You are the monster equivalent of him. bwahahahahaha... Funny huh? I think it is. hahahahaha

Popssss, a law degree, just one?? ? I have quite a few of those, most of which are at an advanced level. I am lettered to the MAX, dude. And thanks be to our benevolent Father in heaven, my IQ is quite high.

Maybe you think most of the folks you attack here are stupid, you are wrong. And just so you know, I am certain your IQ is NOT anywhere near mine.  Not with the anger and hate against Obama, you express here, with no concern for the walking  security risk that is Mitt Romney.

fhmadvocat
fhmadvocat

superlogi,

I don't want to get "technical" with you, but can you point to where in the "Law of the Land" it required the President to consult Congress before taking action in Libya?  If Republicans could, I am sure they would have raised impeachment proceedings.  While I believe he should have consulted with Congress before taking any action, however, how many troops were placed on the ground?  (I know, these factual details are so inconvenient when making an argument).

As far as who I want as leader of the free world, do I want a guy who has insulted our strongest ally ("England is an small island, which makes things the world does not want" to paraphrase "No Apologies" by Mitt Romney), a man who was lampooned as worse than George W. Bush, by the conservative press in England, no the liberal press, the CONSERVATIVE press in England.  A guy whose advisor said none of this would have happened had he been president, is demonstrating a hubris which is unbecoming of a president.

superlogi
superlogi

Technical?  How about Constitutional.  What is it you want this buffoon to deliver?  Seriously, is it a Marxist dictatorship or a Constitutional Republic?

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06...

Even Obama's White House legal beagles knew it was illegal.

Gregory Marshall Smith
Gregory Marshall Smith

The fact is revolutions are messy. Our own led to a war. France's devolved into the bloody Reign of Terror that led to the rise of Napoleon. Russia's revolutions gave us Communism. China's devolved into a horrific civil war. Britain lost most of its colonies through violent revolutions. These are just the world powers.

Smaller countries are even worse. Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Mexico, Sudan, East Timor, Cyprus, Indochina, Algeria, Kenya, Yugoslavia, etc.

The fact is the Arab dictators were going to fall. We initially supported Mubarak until his opposition grew to millions. Then, we urged him to transition to democracy. When he fell, we tried to keep the doors open to whatever new government was elected.

As for Libya, we got involved because France and Britain asked for our help (behind the scenes, it was payback for their support of us in Afghanistan). In that context, we had to prepare for a post-war government.

Islamist parties exist all over the Middle East and North Africa. In a Democracy, you have to tolerate them. In the U.S., the Communist Party is still around somewhere.

What amazes me are all the hawks who pushed for us to go into Iraq and Afghanistan, but are harping on us not backing dictators. They espoused democracy but really (as seen by the support of Hamid Karzai and Ahmed Chalabi) wanted puppet governments we could control. In other words, they wanted the same kind of policies from the middle of the last century, only the masses weren't going for that.

Unfortunately, the military fiascoes in Iraq and Afghanistan have eroded world respect for us. The masses in Egypt and Libya know we can't do much to them, especially with our sabre rattling at Iran.

This might be the time for us to actually listen to the other side of the NeoCons' mouths and sit back and stop trying to the world's policeman. If our help is asked, we can give it on certain conditions favorable to us. Otherwise, we have our own problems.

groovecity
groovecity

"in a Democracy you have to tolerate them."

What?!!