Obama revamps his foreign policy baseball metaphor
May 29th, 2014
08:50 AM ET
4 months ago

Obama revamps his foreign policy baseball metaphor

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama is retooling the foreign policy metaphor that caused his critics to claim he was taking a passive stance abroad.

Instead of hitting singles and doubles, Obama now says he’s focused on swinging at the right pitch.

“Every once in a while, a pitch is going to come right over home plate that you can knock out for a home run. But you don’t swing at every pitch,” Obama said in an interview with NPR News. He sat down with the radio network Wednesday following his speech at West Point’s commencement ceremony.

Obama outlines foreign policy vision

Baseball phraseology entered Obama’s foreign policy arguments last month in Manila, when the president said his policies in countries like Syria and Ukraine were meant, in part, to “avoid errors.”

“You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run,” Obama said. “But we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world.”

That caused some consternation among some newspaper columnists and pundits, who said it portrayed a president unwilling to utilize American power around the globe.

“A singles hitter doesn’t scare anybody,” Maureen Dowd wrote in the New York Times. “It doesn’t feel like leadership. It doesn’t feel like you’re in command of your world.”

Speaking to NPR, the President said his “singles and doubles” statement was “only a partial quote.”

“What I said was that when it comes to foreign policy, that oftentimes the United States has made mistakes not by showing too much restraint but by underestimating how challenging the environment is out there,” Obama said.

Switching sports, he explained “there is a lot of blocking and tackling to foreign policy” that his critics sometimes underestimate.

“If you want to stick to baseball, that a lot of what you want to do is to advance the ball on human rights, advance the ball on national security, advance the ball on energy independence, to put the ball in play,” he said.

Later in the chat, Obama said he wanted to leave the next occupant of the White House - whether it's a man or a woman - an advantageous starting point when it comes to foreign policy.

"I’m going to keep on pushing because I want to make sure that when I turn the keys over to the next president, that they have the ability, that he or she has the capacity to – to make some decisions with a relatively clean slate," he said.

 


Filed under: 2016 • Foreign Policy • President Obama
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Bill from GA

    Fed up – " Actually, Mr. President has killed more then 2,400 humans by bombing via drones including around 800 civilians "

    The civilian death toll Iraq is estimated to be over 110,000. Much better to kill the civilians the old fashion way, i suppose. And who cares about the Americans who died in the process. Right?

    And, why don't you tell us how many terrorist leaders Obama's drones killed? And how many terrorists did W and cheney CREATE with his senseless invasion of Iraq? There were NO Al-Qaeda in Iraq before W and cheney's war.

    May 29, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  2. smith

    @Bill-So mistakes justify more mistakes in regards to foreign policy, is that what your saying? If Iraq and Afghanistan were so bad then why defend what we did in Libya? Your caught in a huge double standard.

    May 29, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. Silence DoGood

    @Reality Check
    rs
    Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Say Gundy- a rich guy give you crumbs yet?
    -

    Typical lefty that thinks people sit around and expect others to give them things. No, here in the real world we work and earn what we want. We then also have to work hard enough to support you lazy slackers as well. Get off your back sides and go earn your bread and stop begging crumbs.
    --------
    Yes, keep smiling, working hard, being true and honest, just like a Disney movie.
    When you are laid off anyway to save 3 cents by the corporate overlords, remember you are lazy and worthless.
    And don't dare go on unemployment.

    May 29, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  4. Bill from GA

    Lynda/Minnesota – " I'm going for a big "oops ... my bad" "

    Hey, Lynda, I know, you were just trying to be nice to em. Calling them inept, rather than: corrupt, worthless, hateful, disgusting, ...

    You were saying "Ah,Gee, they can't help themselves"; I'm saying: " They do their best to destroy our great country."

    May 29, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. smith

    @rs-7,000 soliders did not die in combat under Bush.

    May 29, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  6. tom l

    You're obsessing, Tom. Real people killed by real guns that the GOP and the NRA want to ensure crazy people can buy. Real crimes, real people, a solvable problem. You're bloviating on about the GOP's fake "scandal" in Benghazi. Do explain how fundraising off of 4 brave Americans dying in a foreign civil war even remotely resembles the deaths of innocent Americans strolling around a California street on a summer's evening- and anyone trying to stop that needless atrocity. Even you aren't that twisted..
    ======

    You are using a tragic event to further your political talking point. Both are shameless acts. Repubs raising money exploiting the deaths in Benghazi is disgusting. So is trying to score a political talking point exploiting the deaths of those Americans strolling around a California street. Your comments are all political. You blame people and organizations that have nothing to do with a crazy man's actions. You have zero solutions that would have prevented that action so all you are is exploiting their deaths to try and convince people. That's not me obsessing. That's you obsessing about gun control and using deaths that happened to come from a gun as a means to further your cause. You are no better. Actually, you're worse. You know how disgusting it is to use tragic events and deaths to further a cause yet you did it anyways. Shamelessly.

    May 29, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. smith

    rs-The killers of the mass killings of late have had no criminal record or documented mental illness so how and the heck would any background check or any of the laws proposed by the gun control crowd prevented the killers from getting a gun?

    May 29, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    "the United States has made mistakes not by showing too much restraint but by underestimating how challenging the environment is out there,”
    -------------------------------
    A mistake that costs the lives of nearly 5,000 troops and 100,000 injuries. We elected this President because his head was screwed on correctly and voted against the Iraq war. If you want to know what the Obama Doctrine is, it simply "DFWUS or you'll end up like OBL, Khadafi & the Pirates."

    May 29, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  9. just asking

    obama called the war in afghanistan 'the good war'. more americans have been killed in afghanistan while obama has been president than when bush was president. those deaths are on obama, not bush. especially after he announced our withdrawal at the time time as a troop escalation. what imbecile tells the enemy that? now we know... obama.

    May 29, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Hey, Lynda, I know, you were just trying to be nice to em. Calling them inept, rather than: corrupt, worthless, hateful, disgusting, ... "

    Thank you for noticing ! I've tried to tone down my passive aggressive side for fear I'll be called out by tom I. He chides me when he thinks I've gone to far.

    BTW: about those GA mosquito's you mentioned a few weeks back? They've hatched in Minnesota. I'm feeling your "pain".

    May 29, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. hammerhead

    all liberals keep your blinders on...in baseball speak...obama is the kid who is pick last and put in right field and you hope no one hits the ball to him because he will make a error...

    May 29, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  12. Rusty Krus

    I was told that the wealth would somehow trickle down. I didn't believe it when Saint Ronald Reagan said it and I don't believe it now.

    May 29, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    @Wes
    obama is a disaster.

    Thank you for sharing Wes. Now go back to Hannity so he can give you more important things to write here.

    May 29, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. CryBabies

    Don't bring baseball into the discussion Mr. President. Basketball is a "thuggery" sport, refer to that instead.

    May 29, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. smith

    @Dutch-So you don`t support H. Clinton for potus? She voted for the Iraq War.

    May 29, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. CryBabies

    Wes...Very succinct and to the point! Thank you!

    May 29, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Reality Check

    Silence DoGood
    @Reality Check
    rs
    Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Say Gundy- a rich guy give you crumbs yet?

    Typical lefty that thinks people sit around and expect others to give them things. No, here in the real world we work and earn what we want. We then also have to work hard enough to support you lazy slackers as well. Get off your back sides and go earn your bread and stop begging crumbs.
    --–
    Yes, keep smiling, working hard, being true and honest, just like a Disney movie.
    When you are laid off anyway to save 3 cents by the corporate overlords, remember you are lazy and worthless.
    And don't dare go on unemployment.
    ---

    Yes, I've been doing exactly that, working and saving. I now have accumulated a large amount of money (from nothing), a nice house, many cars, large 401K, support my family. Got laid off once due to a project cancellation but found a better job pretty quickly because I had marketable skills (not a degree in Middle Eastern basket weaving).

    The formula really isn't top secret or difficult, except for those with a chip on their shoulder expecting the world to deliver success and fortune to their door without hard work and sacrifice. But it is getting more and more difficult as I continue to try and do this as the government adds more and more people on my back to support.

    May 29, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. Ben Ghazi

    Rove is so predictable. Paying low functioning, unemployed jerks to post negative things about Obama and Hillary on here. When you see this many far right posts, you can smell the odor of Rove and Ailes at work. Keep up the good work lemmings!

    May 29, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  19. CryBabies

    @ Think Again ( Thunk a What)...Its those left leaning publications going after your guy. Time to layer on some thick skin.

    May 29, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. pinchhitter

    How do you use car keys and a clean slate to swing at the right pitch? I'm confused.

    May 29, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    @Reality Check
    But it is getting more and more difficult as I continue to try and do this as the government adds more and more people on my back to support.

    Are you referring to the oil industry? Big pharma? The military industrial complex? Corporate agro business? Wall Street? All of these entities are sucking on our nations teat and giving nothing back in way of taxes. But, keep on writing about the lazy takers who are worthless and are hurting you. The Kock Brothers are so proud of patriots like you.

    May 29, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. Bill from GA

    smith – " @Bill-So mistakes justify more mistakes in regards to foreign policy, is that what your saying? If Iraq and Afghanistan were so bad then why defend what we did in Libya? Your caught in a huge double standard."

    I don't recall any large-scale invasion of Libya. We supplied aid in keeping Libyan planes out of the battle, but there was never an American invasion, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Call it a double standard if you want; the facts don't back it up.
    And how many Americans died in Libya? How many of our troops were wounded in Libya? How many trillions of dollars did we waste in Libya?

    May 29, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. Gurgyl

    Wes, this nation already saw disaster in Reagan, Bush-2, nothing left, be glad Pres. Obama is cleaning up. I bet you don't even earn to qualify to be republican trash either. But you act like one.

    May 29, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Bill from GA

    smith – " @Bill-So mistakes justify more mistakes in regards to foreign policy, is that what your saying? If Iraq and Afghanistan were so bad then why defend what we did in Libya? Your caught in a huge double standard. "

    Further, I never mentioned Afghanistan, only Iraq. I do not oppose going after those who attacked our country. You're making things up. But if that helps you think you are making a point, I really don't expect much better from you righties. Whatever gets you through the day.

    If W and cheney had finished the job in Afghanistan and brought our troops home, the entire world would have been better off.

    May 29, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. Joe Voter

    Swing and a miss!

    May 29, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
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