'Would We Rally Behind Obama After the Next 9-11?'
That's what Ron Fournier would like to know.
After dismissing ISIS as al-Qaida's "JV" team last fall, the president has awakened to the bloodcurdling threat. Last week, he ordered air strikes and air drops in northern Iraq to prevent genocide and to protect U.S. assets. The CIA is reportedly arming Kurds to fight the emerging Islamic state. The world is focused on whether the United States needs to do more, despite the reluctance of Obama and most Americans to recommit troops.
But I can't shake another, darker, question. What if we get hit again with a 9/11-sized attack?More to the point, hypothetically, would a crisis pull us together or drive us apart? It's a morbid question worth asking before the worst happens, because there's reason to worry about the durability of what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature."
Fournier goes on to note that we're more divided now than we were in 2001, that Bush and the GOP had a strategy to "defang" Democrats who criticized him after 9-11 (but Fournier does not explore what, if any, strategy the Democrats might have deployed to "defang" then then very popular Bush), and so forth.
The one player who all but escapes Fournier's attentions is, incredibly, Barack Obama -- the man who would have to do the rallying if we got hit again. Fournier devotes one paragraph -- the following one -- to Obama's six years in the presidency.
Third, the Obama White House has proved to be self-generous and ruthless in its defense. When critics said his refusal to aid Syrian rebels helped embolden ISIS, Obama tartly called the analysis a "fantasy." But it wasn't just Republicans who made the case against him. Obama's former secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, warmed up for a potential presidential bid by calling the Syria policy a failure.
The Obama White House, and Obama himself, has gone much farther than that. It began by running a DHS study positing that veterans and small-government activists might be terrorist threats. It moved from there to dividing the country neatly over its handling of Obamacare, and then added to the divisions by using Obamacare's regulations to create the "war on women." Along the way, Obama has told Hispanic voters to "punish" their "enemies," by which Obama meant anyone who disagrees with him on immigration.
When his administration got caught in the IRS scandal, Obama at first expressed outrage, while fake-firing the acting IRS commissioner, and then declared the scandal "phony."