Is the President a French Ladyman?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 22 2011 8:19 AM

Is the President a French Ladyman?

John Dickerson wraps up and analyzes the lazy critiques of President Obama's Libya response: the French did it better (Pawlenty), he was led on by women (Lindsey Graham), he was too slow (John McCain).

Certain interventionists in the GOP may be unhappy about Obama's pace, but most Americans are not anxious for a protracted Libyan intervention. And there's no Republican challenger whose foreign policy credentials are so sterling that this moment provides a rationale for their candidacy.

And the cautious Obama is actually the one voters chose in the 2008 election—a president who would be deliberate, focused on international cooperation, slow to take military action, and wary of a longer commitment. Voters seem to sympathize. Republicans have attacked Obama regularly as weak, but voters give him his highest marks on handling foreign affairs and the war in Afghanistan when asked to rate him on his domestic and foreign policy performance. Republicans criticized his handling of the protests in Egypt, but the voters did not .

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Yeah, this important point keeps getting lost. Washington does not want for very loud, erudite-as-hell voices for foreign policy intervention. But Americans aren't in a hurry to intervene unless -- this is important -- they are convinced by a serious information campaign that many lives will be lost if they don't. This has been the case since World War I (in terms of mass media leading to a public opinion shift), and the opinion on Libya is so one-sided right now because Qaddafi is still infamous here for his actions in the 1980s.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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