Conservatives, Obama and Robert Ford in Damascus


Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post has an incisive roundup of a softening in Republican/conservative opposition to confirming Robert Ford as ambassador to Damascus.

President Obama named Ford during a recess; Ford’s unflinching courage in reporting and exposing the regime’s brutality have earned him across the board kudos.

There’s a disconnect, however, in how Rubin and some of the folks she quotes frame this. Here’s Rubin on why she’s changing her mind about confirming Ford:

Robert Ford came to symbolize President Obama’s shameful and pathetic policy of engagement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Obama has inched away from that policy too slowly and with his usual unwillingness to lead. In recent weeks, nevertheless, Ford has come to play a more constructive role in supporting dissidents. In an interview today with the Daily Caller, he speaks in bold terms about the protesters’ courage and the “evil” of the regime.

Ford is not a free agent. No ambassador is. Freelancing diplomacy is a surefire way to get booted from the corps. Ford’s policy is the Obama administration’s policy. He doesn’t walk out the door ot Tweet or post on Facebook without checking with DC. It’s how the State Department works.

Given these exigencies, how can Obama’s Syria policy  be "constructive and bold" and simultaneously just  "inches" away from "shameful and pathetic?" Yet that’s what Rubin says it is.

Rubin’s disconnect offers an interesting contrast with how Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House speaker, is treating Obama’s pro-Israel U.N. speech, in his address today to the Republican Jewish Coalition. The sessions are closed to media, so I’m quoting RJC’s Twitter account: Boehner said Obama "finally sounds like a friend of Israel."

That "finally" is deft: There’s a way to get in a partisan dig and at the same time acknowledge a job well done.

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