Everything you needed to know about President Obama’s primetime address last night is covered in the lede to the Reuters wrap-up:
President Barack Obama on Sunday laid out the most sweeping defense yet of his strategy to defeat Islamic State, but he offered no U.S. policy shift to confront what he called a “new phase” in the terrorist threat after a mass shooting in California.
“New phase,” “no new shift.” “Sweeping defense,” in the shadow of a “mass shooting.”
The juxtaposition — and I’ll reiterate that this is Reuters, not Fox News — is damning.
But Obama, whose restraint contrasted sharply with French President Francois Hollande’s impassioned words after the Paris attacks when he vowed a “merciless” response, said there was no evidence the California assault was directed by a militant group overseas or part of a broader conspiracy at home.
Nevertheless, Obama sought to show his administration was on top of the crisis, despite new questions raised about the country’s defenses against homegrown extremism.
This is the very picture of a postmodern president in complete denial about the medieval and international nature of the threat we face.
When Obama claims there is “no evidence the California assault was directed by a militant group overseas,” he’s parsing in the Clintonian style. When more evidence is revealed that the attackers were connected with ISIS (and don’t we have enough evidence already?), the White House can say something like, “No one from ISIS in Syria directly controlled the attack or picked the victims.”
In other words, last week’s terrorists might have considered themselves members of ISIS, they might have received aid or training from ISIS, but so long as some ISIS bigwig in Raqqa didn’t personally direct every aspect of the San Bernardino attack, Obama can keep his eyes closed and his hands over his ears and shout “LALALALALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”
I’ve been calling him Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom ever since he dissolved his own red line in Syria. Maybe we should start calling him Sergeant Shultz instead.
“It isn’t Islam,” he says of Islamists. “This isn’t who we are,” he says of Americans who want to defend themselves and their families. “We will overcome,” he claims about a threat he can neither recognize or even acknowledge. “I know nothing!” shouted Sergeant Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes.
Schultz knew he was in denial, just trying to keep a low profile and waiting until the war was over and he could return home.
What is Obama waiting for?