Roger L. Simon

The Rebuttal: Did Joni Play Too Nice?

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After recent missteps from Marco Rubio (water bottle) and Bobby Jindal (tension),  Joni Ernst was probably under strict orders to channel Hippocrates’  famous dictum about doing no harm for her rebuttal to Obama’s SOTU Tuesday night.  And the new Iowa senator clearly did no harm, delivering a workmanlike though relatively bland speech that gave no particular opportunity for media vampires to pick over her remains.

And she did at least mention the A-word (al-Qaeda) that was curiously missing from the president’s address even though AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) has been a little bit active in France lately, not to mention Brussels.  And speaking of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen inconveniently seems to have had a Shiite (pro-Iranian) coup on the very day the president was acting as if the War on Terror [sic] was over.  But none of this passes the lips of Barack Obama, for whom the I-word in any of its forms (Islam, Islamist, radical Islam, etc., etc.) is  as off-limits as a Mohammed cartoon on the front page of the New York Times — unless it’s to insist any act of violence could have nothing to do with a religion that so closely resembles Quakerism.

Still Joni missed an opportunity, not specifying radical Islam as our (and modern civilization’s) enemy in her speech, because I strongly suspect America is ready for our politicians to star telling the obvious truth, the omission seeming chicken-hearted and stupid. In fact, when Frank Luntz polled his post-SOTU focus group on the Kelly File on the topic, the group was almost unanimous in wanting radical Islam named, even though half of them had been Obama voters.  People are fed up — and they should be.

Another subject Ernst, a veteran, might have brought up — yes, I know she only had seven minutes — was Gitmo.  Obama is obviously doubling down on it, again at odds with the public.  Almost any normal person — Republican or Democrat — sees extraordinary risk in this, letting potential mass murderers free.

And a third issue Ernst should have dealt with is of course the aforementioned Iran.  This is the subject of Obama’s biggest and most dangerous lie — that Iran has been in any real sense held back in its nuclear ambitions, also his most dangerous veto threat to the safety of the world.

All these issues — foreign policy in general — are a huge vulnerability for the Democrats this year, perhaps their biggest vulnerability. I think it should be seized upon at any time, for the good of the Republicans, but even more, at this point, for the sake of humanity. But perhaps I’m too aggressive.  Joni did no harm.  And I liked her shoes.