At a G20 press conference yesterday, Barack Obama said this:
What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of ‘American leadership’ or ‘America winning,’ or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work [bold mine-DL] to protect the American people and to protect people in the region who are getting killed, and protect our allies and people like France.
Here Obama was clearly mocking the constant refrain from hawkish critics that Obama needs to show more “leadership” in response to this or that crisis. He was also taking a shot at the hawks’ tendency to substitute their demands for “leadership” for specific ideas, which we saw on display in that Romney op-ed on Syria. It was impossible to miss the point that the president was ridiculing those that rely on slogans instead of practical policy recommendations. Ted Cruz pretended to miss the point:
I think in that one sentence, President Obama has summed up the entirety of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy. There is not a more stunning indictment of what has happened in the last seven years than his statement that he’s not interested in American leadership or America winning.
Cruz is deliberately ignoring the part of the statement that confirms that Obama is dismissing vacuous sloganeering, because he wants to twist what Obama said into something completely different. Much like the dishonest parsing of a statement that led to the lie that Obama “doesn’t believe” in American exceptionalism (when the full quote showed exactly the opposite), Cruz knows what Obama said and distorted it into something else entirely. As we know, Cruz is a demagogue, so it’s not news that he would rely on lies to make his point. I mention it here because it is representative of how hawkish critics have consistently misrepresented what Obama says and does to portray him and his foreign policy as almost the opposite of what they are. While they could attack Obama for his real policy errors, hawks have always opted to criticize a fantasy record full of “apology tours” and “appeasement” that never happened because they can’t admit that Obama’s failures overseas have typically come from pursuing some version of the policies that they support.