Why Presidents Grow Old Before Our Eyes
Cori Dauber makes an important point over at Volokh conspiracy about the different roles the President must take up. Here is an excerpt:
Untenable Rhetorical Situation: This president, I think, is in a rhetorical box that there may not be a way out of. This is the second time this week the Times has brought up the idea of the president attending military funerals. (Sunday, of course, Maureen Dowd was on him for not attending for any.) But he can't. For the president, he has to retain a relationship with the soldiers as Commander-in-Chief, where military losses are tragic tears in the national fabric. Funerals are places where soldiers shed their impersonal role as "soldier" are return to their individual role as "family member." The Commander-in-Chief can't personally participate in that.It is these kinds of "no win" situations that Presidents face all the time and it makes them grow old before our eyes.
The way to win the war and to stop the killing of Americans is to prove we are willing to accept the deaths of Americans. Hence lines like, "bring it on." But the president can never only communicate to the enemy. Whatever he says is also heard by a domestic audience, where saying it leaves him open to being portrayed as "insensitive" to the "pain" of American losses, callous, etc etc.