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Unpacking Obama's no strategy comment on combating ISIS

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, President Barack Obama said he was sending Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East to try to form a coalition to combat the militant group ISIS.

But he also made a rather blunt admission that more or less confirmed a lot of what his critics have been saying over the past few weeks.

Obama said, "I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We don't have a strategy yet."

Yes, the president said there's no strategy for dealing with ISIS in Syria. Journalists, lawmakers and pundits all jumped on the quote.

>> Read more trending stories  

Karl Rove said on Fox News, "That's astonishing. … Today, I was appalled. I was appalled."

Barbara Starr of CNN reported "Let's be very clear: ISIS heard all of this."

Administration spokespeople quickly tried to backtrack, claiming there is a comprehensive strategy. 

Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki said during a CNN interview, "The president has already begun implementing his strategy to defeat ISIL."

And i​f we want to be charitable to the president, there does seem to be a plan, at least in Iraq: use the deteriorating situation to pressure the Iraqi government to get its act together.

Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel have said over and over that dealing with ISIS is an Iraqi responsibility.

U.S. involvement has been dangled like a carrot in front of Iraq's leaders to try to pressure them into putting aside rivalries and focusing on the threat at hand. (Video via Al-Baghdadia)

"This cancer that has developed is one that they have to be just as invested in defeating as we are," Obama said

But even assuming that's the case — that Obama wants to expand his Iraq strategy to the whole region — let's remember, few people are happy with his Iraq strategy in the first place.

House Speaker John Boehner called the decision to launch targeted airstrikes in Iraq "parochial thinking" and said, "Like many Americans, I am dismayed by the ongoing absence of a strategy for countering the grave threat ISIS poses to the region."

Columnists have called the strategy "wishful thinking" and said, "He has yet to articulate a detailed and systemic strategy for rolling back ISIS' gains in the region."

And as more stories come out about ISIS, from the murder of American journalist James Foley to the news that as many as 100 Americans might be fighting for the group to the mass execution of 250 Syrian soldiers, it may increasingly look to the public that Obama just isn't doing enough.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said on CBS, "If we don't deal with this threat now thoroughly and convincingly, it's going to come home to roost."

Read more at newsy.com.

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  • Police hope the public can help them track down the man they say murdered his estranged wife outside her Tulsa home early Thursday morning. Homicide Det. Dave Walker says they believe Jose Gomez Baca shot and killed Elizabeth Rodriguez shortly after she arrived home about 1:30 a.m. near Admiral and Memorial in an ambush-style attack. Family members of the victim were in the home, including her brother, Gilberto Rodriguez. “I was in my room, my brother woke me up and told me that my sister was dying outside,” Rodriguez told KRMG news partner FOX23. “I came outside and she was in the car dying. My mom was holding her, she died in my mom’s hands.” Sobbing, he couldn’t continue the interview. Police say Gomez Baca is armed with a handgun and a shotgun, should be considered extremely dangerous, and should not be approached. He’s believed to be driving a Gray, 2004 Dodge Ram pickup truck, with Oklahoma tag 146 QAO. Anyone spotting him or the vehicle is urged to call 911.
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