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Ladders, Grenades, Triggers, Corners: The Wildly Different Metaphors Being Used to Describe Obama’s Turnaround on Syria

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“Obama stuck with grenade in hand that he doesn't want to throw…”

It’s not every day a president decides on military action – with Pentagon planning so far along that specific operational details are leaked to the press -- only later to bunt to Congress. “To bunt” -- that’s a cool baseball metaphor. But it’s nothing compared with the verbiage being thrown around to describe President Barack Obama’s Saturday announcement which has apparently unleashed the creative juices of reporters from Washington to London to Jerusalem.

“Obama stuck with grenade in hand that he doesn't want to throw,” blared a Monday headline in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “U.S. President Barack Obama pulled the pin from the grenade on Saturday and announced he would keep the explosive device in his hand until the completion of the discussions in Congress and the international consultations,” read the article’s lead sentence.

“The high-sounding talk of national debate is a thin disguise for his failure to mobilize support from the public,” the paper wrote.

Image source: Haaretz

The Drudge Report used the gun metaphor, writing “O’S FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER...”

The Drudge Report used a gun metaphor in reaction to Obama's announcement on Syria. (Image source: Drudge Report)

Forget the weaponry. The New York Times’ David E. Sanger asked whether Obama is “Tripping on His Own Red Line?”

Sanger was referring to Obama’s announcement in August 2012 in which he defined President Bashar Assad’s forces using chemical weapons as a “red line” suggesting an American military response would follow.

Image source: New York Times

“A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” Obama said last year.

If one “red line” weren’t enough, the Canada Free Press decided to double the “red” in its headline: “Obama Left Red-faced Over Red Line.”

The Canada Free Press also liked the tripping-over-the-red-line metaphor, writing “President Obama has tripped over his own red line - leaving the prestige and authority of his Office and America’s reputation in tatters.”

But in Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer’s assessment, Obama “boxed himself into a corner and is looking for a way out.”

For Israeli Yedioth Aharonot military affairs analyst Ron Ben-Yishai, “Obama blinked first.”

That was obviously catchy as an Israel Hayom commentator used the same turn of phrase in his title which was, yup, “Obama blinked first.”

Besides blinking, op-ed writer Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi also offered the handy “U-turn” comparison, writing, “U.S. President Barack Obama decided to take an embarrassing U-turn.”

The British newspaper the Independent believes “a lonely” President Obama is “pulling back from the brink.”

With all this talk about Syria, it would be nice to know how they view all this in Damascus. President Bashar Assad’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari, offered his own metaphor: He compared Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron to those who need a ladder to get off a tree. The two leaders "climbed to the top of the tree and don't know how to get down," Jaafari said, according to the official Syrian news agency SANA.

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