For a crisis such as this, the immense prestige of the American presidency ought to be held in reserve. Let the secretary of state issue grave warnings. When Obama said in Pittsburgh that Iran is "going to have to come clean and they are going to have to make a choice," it had the sound of an ultimatum. But what if the Iranians don't? What then? A president has to be careful with such language. He better mean what he says.
The trouble with Obama is that he gets into the moment and means what he says for that moment only. He meant what he said when he called Afghanistan a "war of necessity" -- and now is not necessarily so sure. He meant what he said about the public option in his health-care plan -- and then again maybe not. He would not prosecute CIA agents for getting rough with detainees -- and then again maybe he would.
Most tellingly, he gave Congress an August deadline for passage of health-care legislation -- "Now, if there are no deadlines, nothing gets done in this town . . . " -- and then let it pass. It seemed not to occur to Obama that a deadline comes with a consequence -- meet it or else.
Obama lost credibility with his deadline-that-never-was, and now he threatens to lose some more with his posturing toward Iran. He has gotten into a demeaning dialogue with Ahmadinejad, an accomplished liar. (The next day, the Iranian used a news conference to counter Obama and, days later, Iran tested some intermediate-range missiles.) Obama is our version of a Supreme Leader, not given to making idle threats, setting idle deadlines, reversing course on momentous issues, creating a TV crisis where none existed or, unbelievably, pitching Chicago for the 2016 Olympics. Obama's the president. Time he understood that.
What Cohen doesn't delve into is the fact that Barack Obama only knows how to campaign, not how to "be" the President, he didn't have the experience when he was campaigning and that lack of experience is why he makes idle ultimatums and has them ignored.
At this point, everyone, especially other countries, know that Obama only means what he says when he says it (if even then), but then changes his mind, publicly, at every turn in the road.
Cohen mentions how Obama does things as if he is still campaigning and in a way, Obama is still campaigning, for 2012. The problem there is, the public now knows exactly what his campaign promises are made of... lies.
His die hard supporters will still vote for him, but Independents, seniors and even most moderates, (those that tipped him over the edge and got him elected) will not be taken in again.