By the way, it won’t fly to say that the administration’s language has been consistent between last week and the start of this week. Expressing “concerns” about something and saying that one is “appalled and outraged” by the same thing are two very different sorts of statements as a matter of conveying displeasure diplomatically. Everyone can see perfectly well that the rhetoric has escalated, and whether or not Obama has escalated his rhetoric because of the critics who have been demanding “more forceful rhetoric” or for some other reason, he has escalated it. More to the point, his critics will take this language as vindication that their early, misguided demands for “tougher” language were right and his caution was not. Whether or not he was affected by the drumbeat on the Post op-ed pages, he has started moving in the direction that those writers wanted. One could even try to defend changing rhetoric as circumstances change, but to deny that there has been any change is silly and, I’m sorry to say, something we have seen several times from Obama over the last two years.
I’m not sure who exactly is denying that his talk yesterday was a bit more blunt, but could it be that Obama’s rhetoric has been designed to match the facts on the ground? I know this is a crazy idea, in which we don’t fly out the gate and call Iran an evil empire and a member of the axis of evil before anything happens, but instead we react to the facts on the ground. Obama’s critics have advanced the same rhetorical line from the beginning. Obama has changed his rhetoric… as the events change. I’m not sure how much of a ramping up the rhetoric it is to note that the murder of Neda and the quashing of dissent is “appalling and outrageous,” as it seems to me that the behavior is appalling and outrageous.
All of this, I guess, was a long way of me stating that I just don’t see Obama shifting his language so as to accommodate his critics or to alleviate domestic political criticisms, I see it as a natural reaction to events as they unfold. Daniel and I have both figured out that no matter what Obama says or does, it will never satisfy certain critics or stop them from making bad faith arguments. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest Obama has figured this out, too, and is just playing it straight.