On Monday's New Day on CNN, Jonathan Martin of the New York Times and Bloomberg's Margaret Tavel ran to President Obama's defense over his handling of ISIS. Martin hyped that "the President is in a tough spot here....these two beheadings of journalists...have really outraged a lot of folks....and the President is forced to act. But again, there is not any appetite in this country to put ground troops back in that region. And so, the President is somewhat handcuffed."
When anchor John King raised the controversy surrounding Obama's golf outing shortly after the beheading of James Foley, Talev asserted that the chief executive was powerless to influence many of the crises across the globe: [MP3 audio available here]
JOHN KING: ...Margaret – you know, forgive me – good for the President for owning up, saying that was a bad call to go golfing so quickly – but it's not the first time.
MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG: No – and look, it's not like he doesn't get the optics. He just hates that he has to deal with it....and is increasingly frustrated. You know, as you see the rest of his term winding down, he's just like, oh, my God, I'm over it! You know, he's getting bashed over the head by Congress; you know, pummeled by these international crises that he has very little ability to sway. And he's like – the man wants to go out for a few hours and be left alone.
King first noted Republican Senator Ted Cruz's recent criticism of the President's handling of ISIS, as the Democrat prepares for a speech on the issue on Wednesday, and asked Talev, "What are we looking for from the President? Is he ready to talk more clearly about, we may do airstrikes in Syria – here's what it will take – or is this an incremental step this week?" The Bloomberg White House correspondent was initially defensive of the second-term politician in her answer, but acknowledged some of his past missteps:
TALEV: It's not incremental, in the sense that I think he does want to lay out, really, for the first time, a much more broader approach that goes beyond Iraq, and talking about the growing threat. But to answer that, sort of, $64,000 question – which is, what is the U.S. doing in Syria – I really don't think he is going to get to the heart of it.
So, the truth is somewhere in the middle, which is often the case with President Obama. I mean, what's he going to ask Congress for? Does he want to leave himself enough wiggle room that he can continue acting on his own if he doesn't think they'll go along with him? But the real challenge for him is to explain to Americans, why did I call these guys 'junior varsity' a few months ago; and now, it's like the biggest threat – you know, that America faces.
The CNN anchor replied favorably to his guest's "junior varsity" line: "That's a great point. They were a 'junior varsity;' and now, all of a sudden, it's this emerging and growing threat that his own people say could take five, ten, fifteen years to deal with."
King then turned to Martin and wondered, "How much impact does it have on the President?" The New York Times journalist responded with his "tough spot" and "handcuffed" claims about President Obama, and continued by playing up the limited amount of time that the Democrat apparently has to deal with Syria-based terrorist group:
JONATHAN MARTIN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: ...Furthermore, there's only so much this president can do, frankly, in the next two years. If you read any of the reports about what's happening there, most experts believe this is going to take years and years – well after this president leaves the White House – to really address the root of this issue.
Near the end of the segment, the CNN anchor played a clip from Obama's Sunday interview on NBC's Meet the Press where he addressed the golf outing controversy. Talev replied with her "pummeled by these international crises that he has very little ability to sway" remark.