President Obama Gives his Syria Speech; the Internet Clamors.

syria-obamaOn Tuesday night, as Jon Stewart so aptly put it, President Obama walked down “I Killed Bin Laden Lane,” and gave a fifteen and a half minute speech outlining the situation in Syria and America’s proposed course of action.

To begin with, I want to make it clear that I have only one purpose behind my writing of this article: to give a synopsis of the “internet’s reaction” to the president’s speech. While I recognize that there are many issues surrounding the situation in Syria, I want to make it unequivocal that this article is meant to have an extremely narrow focus. This article is not meant to address the pros/cons of potential American military action in Syria, nor is it meant to address the issue of American military intervention generally. It is not a background on the situation in Syria. It does not advocate for or against military action, nor does it advocate for or against President Obama. It simply recaps online reactions to President Obama’s speech.

Also, I use the phrase the “internet’s reaction” loosely. In all honesty, I mined the “data” from my page, Politically Preposterous. Now, if you’ve never visited my page you might presume (incorrectly) that all of our fans are “anti-war hippy liberals” or you might presume  (also incorrectly) that all of our fans are “Obama loyalists” who support everything the president says and does. However, this isn’t the case. Although we are in fact a “left leaning” page, we pride ourselves on creating an environment for people of all political ideologies to engage in civil and substantive debate. Thus, we have an extremely diverse group of people from many walks of life and many different political leanings, who frequent the page and engage in discussion. Moreover, while you would be correct in asserting that the sample size responding to my inquiry – “Thoughts on the President’s Speech?” – was small, I nonetheless believe that it represents a fair and accurate microcosm of the reaction of a much larger group of Americans.

One final note before I get into the synopsis. While I recognize comments on Facebook (and the internet in general) are for the most part public, I believe in using only first names in my articles. This is because I feel it is unethical for me to reproduce full names and comments without explicit permission.

I’ll start with the reactions of those who liked and agreed with the president’s remarks and seemed to generally agree with his propositions:

  • Debbie: “I thought they were just right. Short and to the point. Stressed the international obligations.”
  • Heather: “I think, as usual, he has provided a logical, balanced, and cohesive argument.”
  • Ondra: “Cautiously optimistic while keeping the cards in his hands. Good move.”
  • Nicole: “Put yourselves and your loved ones in those victims places… You know he is right.”
  • Lori: “I’m down with it. And I’m a lefty!”
  • Bobby: “The fact that an American President is willing to follow a path of discourse and diplomacy is vastly encouraging to this very tired father of an American soldier.”
  • Jeanne: “I think he made some good points, let’s see how diplomacy works, with the possibility of force if needed.”
  • Tony: “He hit a home run!”
  • Curtis: “He made a compelling argument for action. I love him. I love how nuanced he is and was. He is not a hothead, but he cannot let this go un-addressed.”
  • Della: “I am even more firmly in support. It has been a difficult week and a very hard decision on my part, but he is right and more he is doing it right.”
  • Marsha: “Good speech and glad he addressed many questions and issues I have had to try and answer about why we might need to intervene. Glad we aren’t backing off completely.”
  • Terri: “I agree with him totally. I cannot in good conscience be silent when chemical weapons are used. Not wanting to get involved is history repeating itself. We didn’t want to get involved in WWII while Hitler gassed millions.”
  • Cherie: “A very good speech expressing a sensible plan.”
  • Joseph: “Awesome job. Bravo for him, from this RINO.”
  • Max: “He’s got the right plan and he needs all of our support to make it work. Call your Congressional representative and express support for the Presidents’ strategy on Syria.”

Those who thought the speech was okay, but do not agree with military action or are unsure about the course of action America should take:

  • Jo: “Didn’t make me feel better about anything, that’s for sure! Just seemed like more smoke blown up our asses … But, that’s politics, right? It was a good speech, just didn’t make me feel any better about striking another country… If anything, I’m discouraged even more now.”
  • Michele: “I do love President Obama- but I completely oppose involvement.”
  • Pavel: “Politicians and the media are all very persuasive speakers, and as a simple citizen listening to the President, to the Congress, to the media pundits, I can come to no conclusion other than they are all right. First I was for a strike, then I was against a strike, then there were conflicting reports about who used the gas, then there was conclusive evidence but we couldn’t see it. As a rational human being I am against military action, and yet as a rational human being, I am in favor of military action to stop the atrocities. But military action, in itself, would end up being an atrocity. I don’t think that I’m any more informed nor decided now than I was an hour ago.”
  • Tim: “With nothing but respect for the president I think military action in Syria is wrong and unjustified.”
  • Joe: “I thought he did a good job. I also hope there is no military action. Enough fighting, time to start bringing PEACE to the world.”
  • John: “Cautiously optimistic. But the US needs to turn the heat up on Russia.”
  • Brian: “Highly concerned. I think he did a good job though. I hope we can figure out another way.”
  • Kyle: “I thought he did a good job, but I fail to see the reason why it’s America’s job to be “big” brother to watch out and stop these wars. Rwanda comes to mind. We are still in recovery from this last war, why so hasty, even with good intentions, to put our necks out again? We need to fix our own government and country before we can fix another’s country. It is arrogant and foolish to overlook our domestic issues to fight a war we technically have no reason to be in. Why can’t we let the UN and other countries do the dirty work in this case? Hell we go to war in this one, it would be a perfect opportunity for Iran, or North Korea to spring on us. Just WAY more cons of going then pros, for me.”

The indifferent:

  • Debbie: “I’m not watching.
  • Jeff: “I missed it because I was watching Top Gear. Forgive me my mindless fodder.”

And finally, those who disliked the speech and/or the policy (and maybe even the president in general), thought the president should have said something different or was lying, and are against US involvement:

  • Alexander: “Maybe if he said evildoers a couple of time he could have gotten some support.”
  • Mark: “All lies!
  • Robert: “How can you people still support this man. Everything that comes out of his mouth is bullsh*t… NO MORE WAR.”
  • Jerry: “We only need to compare him to Reagan and little “W.”
  • Ralph: “He has a much better delivery than Bush. Same lies. The smoke has cleared.”
  • Adam: “I know he is trying to distance this from Iraq and Afghanistan but I don’t want to hear it. It’s their civil war, we do not need to get involved. This will just increase our debt and artificially increase out GDP. I do not support going to war unless we are in danger.”
  • Michael: “So we’re going to drop bombs on Syrians to prove a point that killing people indiscriminately is bad? In killing “bad guys” what if we embolden or prolong a more intense civil war that kills more people? What if the “good guys” who take power really are Al Qaeda? This will be one more example of the unintended consequences of expert predictions coming home to roost.”
  • Kimball: “No war, no bombs. Period!”

As you can see, the reaction was a mixed bag. Which should surprise no one, considering America’s size and diversity. Moreover, and probably more important, is that people were clamoring; because when push comes to shove, no matter what America’s course of action turns out to be, at least this time around we can say we had the debate.

Ilyssa Fuchs

Ilyssa Fuchs is an attorney, freelance writer, and activist from New York City, who holds both a juris doctor and a political science degree. She is the founder of the popular Facebook page Politically Preposterous and a blog of the same name. Follow Ilyssa on Twitter @IlyssaFuchs, and be sure to check out her archives on Forward Progressives as well!


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