Critics become friends, and vice versa

I was struck by the odd role-reversal Tuesday night of two well-known political commentators reacting to President Obama’s speech to the nation about the Syria crisis.

David Brooks, a noted conservative and a columnist for the New York Times, sounded quite supportive in critiquing the president’s speech. His friend and fellow PBS pundit, Mark Shields, a syndicated columnist with a decidedly liberal bent, expressed disappointment in the speech.

The two men reacted on a special edition of the PBS NewsHour immediately after the president concluded his speech, which was shown on Panhandle PBS.

Perhaps the role reversal speaks to the confusing times in which we live. The Syria crisis has split one-time friends into opposing camps. Do they support Obama’s call for military action against Syria to retaliate for its use of chemical weapons in August? Some on the left support the proposal. So do some on the right. Both camps — left and right — though, are divided deeply within their own ranks.

Then we have some commentators who are prone to support the president saying he’s wrong to attack Syria while some of those on the right who normally are critical of the president now are lining up behind him.

A full-throated debate is now under way, which is the norm in a contentious society such as ours.

Do not think you can predict, though, who will line up with whom.


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