Trade-offs in a messy world

Jay Nordlinger thinks the president’s explanation of the Bergdahl swap reflects a simplistic, black-and-white type of mind:

If only he could acknowledge trade-offs, in a messy, wicked world: a world of difficult and excruciating choices. If only he could say, “Sometimes you have to hold your nose,” or, “Yes, there were competing demands and principles here,” or, “I understand the concern over the release of those terrorists” — but he cannot, apparently. Worse, he portrays any critic as either a moron or a cretin.

For eight years of Ronald Reagan and eight years of George W. Bush, I heard the same thing: “The president is simplistic. Everything is black-and-white to him. There is no nuance.” That wasn’t true. Before the invasion of Iraq, for example, Bush said over and over, “There are risks of action and risks of inaction.” He had to weigh those risks.

In Obama’s mind, however, everything seems to be clear-cut, inarguable. There is no gray at all. It’s his way or the highway. Before he was elected, we were assured that, whatever his policy views, he had a first-class temperament. I think I like his temperament even less than his views.

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