Obama's Libya Doctrine Vague Amid False Choices : NPR SCOTT SIMON, host: This week, President Obama laid out his philosophy about military involvement in Libya. Some pundits applauded the speech as a triumph. Others said it fell short. President Obama himself might argue... President BARACK OBAMA: And much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya. SIMON: The false choice is one of President Obama's favorite rhetorical tools. NPR's Ari Shapiro explores why. ARI SHAPIRO: To hear President Obama describe it, America is inundated with false choices. They lurk in national security debates. Pres. OBAMA: Let's reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values. SHAPIRO: They burrow into discussions about the economy. Pres. OBAMA: Those who claim we have to choose between paying down our deficits on the one hand, and investing in job creation and economic growth on the other. SHAPIRO: False choices even nest in foreign affairs. Pres. OBAMA: There's long been attention between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists. SHAPIRO: President Obama has one answer for all those extremes. Pres. OBAMA: I reject these choices. That is a false choice. You and I know this is false choice. SHAPIRO: So why does he keep using this phrase, and does it work? Well, as the president himself might lay out the argument... Pres. OBAMA: On the one hand... SHAPIRO: ...some people argue that it's an authentic expression of maturity and nuance. Dan Pfeiffer is the White House communications director. Mr. DAN PFEIFFER (White House Communications Director): You could take these very complicated issues and boil them down into hackneyed cliches or tropes, and maybe that would help us in the immediate aftermath of the speech when cable talkers - who are drawn to cliches and tropes -are analyzing the speech. But the reality is the president has always believed the American people need to be treated like adults, and he wants to tell what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. SHAPIRO: Then again, as President Obama might put it... Pres. OBAMA: Those who claim... SHAPIRO: ...it's nothing more than a convenient rhetorical trick.