A year ago President Obama stated publicly that any use of chemical weapons by Syria’s President Assad was “a red line” that could not be crossed. It was a strong, visual metaphor. In using it he crossed a line that communicators always caution about – be careful when you frame a strong statement with an indelible image or metaphor because you may have difficulty re-calibrating your message later on.
Regardless of the public’s, the pundits’ and the media’s current views on his Syria policy, President Obama is now also being taken to task by some of his critics specifically for his choice of words a year ago August. Headlines like “War of Words” and “Obama Blurs Red Line” only serve to turn his choice of imagery against him.