According to The Hill, the White House is struggling to craft a unified message over the threat posed by the Islamic State (IS), the terrorist group surging across Iraq.
“Officials have sowed confusion,” the Washington political paper wrote on Monday, “by giving different statements at different times on the level of danger posed by the Islamic group.”
Obama’s decision to ask Congress last year to authorize action in Syria is giving him trouble now as he looks to take action against IS without involving legislators.
Explaining why Obama is looking to move against IS without assistance from Congress, when he sought such support last year against Syria, the President’s spokesman, Josh Earnest, flippantly said recently, “That was a different situation, right?”
Obama seems inclined to go it alone on action against IS, but Virginia Democrat Senator Tim Kaine, an Obama ally, said on Monday that he didn’t think Obama had authorization. “I do not believe that our expanded military operations against [IS] are covered under existing authorizations from Congress,” Kaine said.
But even as Obama has asserted that IS is a direct threat to America, others, like General Martin Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, seem to disagree, further muddying the waters of how the administration is responding to the threat.
“The current confusions,” The Hill wrote, “are just the latest twists in a tale that has seen considerable shifts in the White House’s rhetoric.”
The Hill also wrote a piece highlighting Obama’s evolution on the threat.
Initially, Obama dismissed the Islamic State as merely the “jayvee team” pretending to be a bigger threat. That was in January. But by this month, through his Secretary of State, Obama called IS “evil,” and he personally called the terror group a “cancer” that needed to be stopped.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.