Yesterday, President Obama finally took the gloves off. In a display described by some as strong and decisive and by others as weak and petulant, he got in touch with his true anger and attacked the real enemy. No, he did not present a plan to obliterate ISIS. He did not attack Sharia law for its virulent homophobia.
He attacked Donald Trump and all of those who have been criticizing him for not calling radical Islamic terrorism by its name. As many people, myself and Trump included, have pointed out, Obama was far more agitated by Republicans than he was by Islamist terrorism. It makes sense. ISIS has arisen in the wake of failed Obama administration policies.
Of course, Obama was engaged in theatrical posturing. He was not bringing the nation together and was not showing the cold anger of a resolute leader committed to fighting back.
Now, his satraps are out peddling the idea that the true culprit in Orlando was homophobia and therefore that we need to cleanse our minds of impure thoughts. And they are floating the demented notion that if we aim our fire at ISIS and other radical Islamists, the terrorists will have won.
It takes a specially depraved mind to try to convince people that fighting back is a sign that the terrorists have won. By their logic if we bend over the terrorists will have lost. In war, victory has never gone to the squeamish.
Obama never misses an opportunity to make Americans feel guilty. In his warped mind, whenever anything bad happens to America it’s the fault of his true enemy, white people and Republicans. It’s punishment for their unacknowledged criminal impulses… like Islamophobia and homophobia. Rev. Jeremiah Wright is surely proud of his protégé.
Once Obama opened fire on Republicans the New York Times naturally editorialized that he was bringing Americans together. It added that Donald Trump would never be able to do.
The most divisive president in recent memory has taken the occasion of a horrific terrorist attack to divide the nation. At least he’s being true to character.
Michael Goodwin described the president:
Obama’s demeanor and tone were far from presidential — tantrums rarely are. Nor was he effective in rallying the nation to his cause. No surprise there. His cause is himself, always and only, and his greatly diminished historic presidency looks especially insignificant next to the bloodshed in Orlando. The iconic redeemer who promised hope and change never seemed so small and hopeless.
America saw Barack Obama at low tide yesterday, revealed as brimming with fury and bankrupt of ideas and even sympathy for the dead. The man who had an answer for everything and a solution to nothing is now also out of excuses.
He meant his attacks to be especially vicious, but the spectacle was more sad than provocative. The president needs a rest from the job as much as we need a new president.
Forty-nine innocent people were gunned down in a gay nightclub by an Islamic terrorist, another 53 lie wounded, yet Obama feels only his own pain. Public confidence in his effort to combat terrorism on his own peculiar terms while soft-pedaling the links to Islam were among the casualties in the Pulse nightclub. The world knows he’s a failure and he can’t stand the embarrassment.
Obama unleashed his tantrum because he was seriously torqued to see pundits and politicians pointing out his failure to name radical Islamist ideology as an inimical force. His was a “What’s in a name?” argument. Or better, it was his version of Hillary Clinton’s immortal words: “What difference at this point does it make?”
Of course, as I pointed out in a tweet yesterday, if it makes no difference what you call it, why not call it radical Islam? Is Obama afraid to offend the Jordanians, as some have suggested. Or is he afraid of blaspheming a god he fears, as I have opined.
Either way, it matters what you call your enemy, because if you do not call it by its name you cannot fight it effectively. You cannot lead a nation into battle against… whatever. It’s unclear and unfocused and irresolute. If you don’t know who the enemy is, you cannot fight the enemy.
The Wall Street Journal quotes Obama’s rejoinder to those who accuse him of a pusillanimous approach to radical Islam:
“For a while now the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize this Administration and me for not using the phrase ‘radical Islam,’” Mr. Obama said Tuesday, using his preferred acronym for Islamic State. “That’s the key, they tell us. We cannot beat ISIL unless we call them ‘radical Islamists.’ What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change?”
In its editorial the Journal answers Obama’s question:
We’re unaware of any previous American war fought against an enemy it was considered indecorous or counterproductive to name. Dwight Eisenhower routinely spoke of “international Communism” as an enemy. FDR said “Japan” or “Japanese” 15 times in his 506-word declaration of war after Pearl Harbor. If the U.S. is under attack, Americans deserve to hear their President say exactly who is attacking us and why. You cannot effectively wage war, much less gauge an enemy’s strengths, without a clear idea of who you are fighting.
Mr. Obama’s refusal to speak of “radical Islam” also betrays his failure to understand the sources of Islamic State’s legitimacy and thus its allure to young Muslim men. The threat is religious and ideological.
Islamic State sees itself as the vanguard of a religious movement rooted in a literalist interpretation of Islamic scriptures that it considers binding on all Muslims everywhere. A small but significant fraction of Muslims agree with that interpretation, which is why Western law enforcement agencies must pay more attention to what goes on inside mosques than in Christian Science reading rooms.
But, the Journal adds, the Islamic State is more a state of mind than a geographical locale:
The Islamic State threat is less a matter of geography than of belief, which is why it doesn’t matter whether Islamic State directly ordered or coordinated Sunday’s attack so long as it inspired it. This, too, is a reminder of the centrality of religion to Islamic State’s effectiveness.
In a larger, and perhaps more philosophical sense, Obama does not seem to understand the nature of the threat posed to America. Beyond his fear of blaspheming a religion he fears, he seems to be engaged in magical thinking. He seems to believe that calling something by its name means accepting that it is real. Not speaking the words counts as an effort to wish it out of existence.
It’s the mindset, stupid. And the policies that flow from it. Unable to say the words Obama is blind to reality.
The Journal continues:
No wonder the Administration seemed surprised by the Islamic State’s initial success in taking Mosul in 2014—soldiers of faith tend to fight harder than soldiers of fortune—and by its durability despite the U.S.-led air campaign. Last November Mr. Obama boasted that Islamic State was “contained” a day before its agents slaughtered 130 people in Paris. Days later, White House factotum Ben Rhodes insisted “there’s no credible threat to the homeland at this time.” Then came San Bernardino.
Of course, it will be interesting to see how this all works out in the presidential election. The most recent Bloomberg poll had Hillary Clinton leading the Donald by 12% among likely voters. One notes that polls of likely voters tend to be more favorable to Republicans. Undoubtedly, the events in Orlando will improve Trump’s poll numbers. How much, we do not know.