In advance of the speech, Thomas Lifson correctly anticipated three elements, and correctly dismissed two that he might have preferred. Neo-Neocon was not expecting much either.
After review, I can't find anything in this Politico summary of the speech ("Obama's not-so-peppy pep talk) to make me regret nodding off.
Obama's cool, calm "I got this" air helped get him elected in 2008. Seven years later, it’s clear that many Americans don’t want reassurance, but want him to convey the sense of urgency that they’re feeling. Aides were hoping that he’d be able to.On the right side of Our President, you would expect to read disappointment, and you would not be disappointed. Jim Geraghty finds one thing to like.
Giving the speech from the Oval Office “conveys the seriousness with which we are taking the issue,” a senior administration official said Sunday afternoon, ahead of Obama’s remarks. Americans would see Obama in “a familiar and appropriate venue,” the official said, “from the place where he makes his decisions.”
But he didn’t announce any of those decisions on Sunday. And the four minutes he spent during the Oval Office address explaining what he thinks Americans should do were shorter on details and passion than the four minutes he spent saying what he thinks Americans shouldn’t do.
“We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam,” Obama said. “That, too, is what groups like ISIL want.”
The irony is that, rhetoric aside, while Americans say they seriously disapprove of Obama’s performance on terrorism, few Republicans or Democrats have proposed anything substantively different from what Obama's doing in Syria.
The lone bits of good news were the president’s belated acknowledgement that the Fort Hood shooting was terrorism – not “workplace violence” – and that he didn’t announce any new executive orders dealing with gun control.But only one thing.
At this point in his presidency, Obama speaks with only one tone, the slightly exasperated and sometimes not-merely-slightly exasperated “adult in the room” who constantly has to correct his fellow Americans, who are always flying off the handle, calling for options that “aren’t who we are,” betraying our values, and so on. He’s always so disappointed in us. At certain points, Obama sounded as if he was speaking to children. “The threat is real, but we will overcome it.” “We will not defeat it with tough talk, abandoning our values, or giving in to fear.” “We will prevail by being strong and smart.”That's typical of the self-styled progressives. They're better people and they care more, dontchaknow?
To James Wigderson, Our President is a diminished man diminishing the office he occupies.
We cannot deny that President Barack Obama has had great challenges in his time in office (some self-inflicted). However, what six years of Obama in the White House has proved that while America has often had great men that rose to great challenges, often small men remain small."America" did not so react, although Donald Trump has been grabbing a lot of airtime suggesting just such a thing.
Limited by his smallness, Obama did not even attempt in his speech Sunday night to rise to the occasion of our nation being under attack. Instead, the president spent a great deal of his time warning us to be nice to Muslims, as if America reacted to the attacks on 9-11 with a mass internment of Muslims such as that occurred to the Japanese under President Franklin Roosevelt.
At Neo-neocon, there's an excellent analysis of the word-smithing, an art lawyers and faculty committees and presidential speechwriters practice well. "With Obama, appearances can be deceptive, as most of you surely know." Words devoid of sound and fury, and signifying something other than what you might expect.
But on the
"Disappointing," grouse the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial board, who conclude (albeit absent specifics) that "the president should do more."
We agree with Obama: No American ground forces. But yes to special forces with specific missions. And yes to a coalition of forces from nations in the region with U.S. support. Yes to continued bombing. Yes to not allowing individuals on the "no fly" list to purchase firearms. Yes to Muslim leaders in America doing more to counter the nihilistic strain of Islam that is infecting one of the world's great religions. And yes to tolerance for Muslims, who are hurt most by the terror emanating from Raqqa in Iraq.There is a more productive way of enlisting practitioners of the Moslem religion to work against renegade elements that treat "Islamic" as a political and religious bundle, and in getting new arrivals to these shores to buy into America, which we will address in the conclusion.
They also ask, "How do the United States and its allies defeat the extremist group without clearing them province by province, town by town, house by house?"
Perhaps by holding Vladimir Putin's coat while the Russian Navy does it?
The Common Dreams collective revives the credibility gap. Democrat president, restrictive rules of engagement, can the body count be far behind?
Also on Common Dreams, Norman Solomon brings the cynicism. "I kind of realize we can’t kill our way out of this conflict with ISIL, but in the short term hopefully we can kill our way out of the danger of a Republican victory in the presidential race next year." Here comes the credibility gap. The first person references are Mr Solomon putting words in Our President's mouth.
I gave a lofty major speech a couple of years ago about how a democratic society can’t have perpetual war. I like to talk about such sugary ideals; a spoonful helps the doublethink medicine go down."Number one in dropping bombs" refers to the French and the Russians, and also to the Saudis, as Mr Solomon appears to be calling out Our President for fighting one manifestation of Islamofascism while enabling another. There are some elements of the left, after all, who reject the idea of dropping bombs when the commander in chief is a Democrat. "You don’t expect this policy to make a lot of sense, do you?"
Let me now say a word about what we should not do. We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. The United States of America has colossal air power—and we’re going to use it. No muss, little fuss: except for people under the bombs, now being utilized at such a fast pace that the warhead supply chain is stretched thin.
Yes, we’re escalating a bit on the ground too, with hundreds of special operations forces going into Syria despite my numerous public statements — adding up to more than a dozen since August 2013—that American troops would not be sent to Syria. Likewise we’ve got several thousand soldiers in Iraq, five years after I solemnly announced that “the American combat mission in Iraq has ended.”
But here’s the main thing: In the Middle East, the USA will be number one in dropping bombs and firing missiles. Lots of them! It’s true that we keep making enemies faster than we can possibly kill them, but that’s the nature of the beast.
No, it makes sense if Our President doesn't really want to win.
His own words suggest a total victory is something he cannot live with.
Finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists. For over a year, I have ordered our military to take thousands of airstrikes against ISIL targets. I think it's time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united, and committed, to this fight.Perhaps he'd really rather just hold Vladimir Putin's coat.
My fellow Americans, these are the steps that we can take together to defeat the terrorist threat. Let me now say a word about what we should not do.
We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That's what groups like ISIL want. They know they can't defeat us on the battlefield. ISIL fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq. But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits.
On the other hand, David Limbaugh, also a conservative, proposes to just win, baby.
President Obama, we are not afraid that we are incapable of defeating the enemy; we are mortified that we have a leader who won't lead and who has created a vacuum in the world and in the United States where our enemy can flourish.To win, and Michael Walsh suggests ending the war now, might mean getting beyond Nagasaki syndrome.
President Obama, you underestimate the American people just as egregiously as you ignore the reality of our enemy. Please don't insult us anymore with your lies that you have a strategy to defeat an enemy you won't even acknowledge. No one with half a brain believes you anymore.
By contrast, the American military of today, even after seven years with Obama as commander-in-chief, remains the world's foremost fighting force. Does anyone seriously doubt that, were it unleashed with all the weapons in its arsenal, including tactical nuclear weapons, and with the only rule of engagement to destroy the enemy utterly and completely, that this war would be over very quickly?Perhaps there is likewise a better way to change hearts and minds at home. Here is Our President. These may be the passages that set Donald Trump off.
Instead, the modern Democrat Party and its amen chorus in the media can think of a million reasons why such a thing could not be done. "That's not who we are" they say. (Says who?) Response must be proportional and measured -- says who? Attacking ISIS at its source would only breed more terrorists. Ask Herbert Kitchener, who dealt with a similar situation at Omdurman in the aftermath of Gordon's death at Khartoum. The Maxim gun ended the "dervish" threat for nearly a century.
If we're to succeed in defeating terrorism we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate.That conditional "If we're to succeed" is weak. A stronger formulation would run "After this war is over we will be able to honor the contributions of people who practiced their religion yet were not Islamofascists."
That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.
But just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans -- of every faith -- to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country.
Michael Tomasky, also of the left, makes a similar observation.
I do believe a president, this president, can take steps to bring Muslim Americans more fully into our culture and society. That doesn’t mean just reading them their rights. It also means reading them their responsibilities. Obama started down that road Sunday night.In National Review, Andrew McCarthy elaborates.
Some Muslims come to the United States to practice their religion peacefully, and assimilate into the Western tradition of tolerance of other people’s liberties, including religious liberty — a tradition alien to the theocratic societies in which they grew up. Others come here to champion sharia, Islam’s authoritarian societal framework and legal code, resisting assimilation into our pluralistic society. Since we want to both honor religious liberty and preserve the Constitution that enshrines and protects it, we have a dilemma.That's the complication Our President raises in invoking the responsibility of Americans to reject religious tests. The test the authorities must devise is more properly a political test.
Crucially, the interpretation of Islam that is mainstream in most Muslim-majority countries does not accept a division between mosque and state. In fact, to invoke “mosque” as the equivalent of “church” in referring to a division between spiritual and political life is itself a misleading projection of Western principles onto Islamic society. A mosque is not merely a house of worship. It does not separate politics from religion any more than Islam as a whole does. There is a reason why many of the fiery political protests that turn riotous in the Middle East occur on Fridays — the Muslim Sabbath, on which people pour out of the mosques with ears still burning from the imam’s sermon.A practicing Moslem who applies for citizenship must pledge to renounce allegiance to all other governments, unless the citizenship applications have changed substantially. But an asylum-seeker is not, under current rules, required to renounce anything, and such a requirement on a tourist or student visa would be silly. Thus the logical challenge Elizabeth Price Foley raises.
How to distinguish between the “religious” and “political” Muslims is the question. But the complexity of this question shouldn’t stop our elected representatives from beginning the important task of devising policies designed to answer it.Indeed. And Strategy Page's Austin Bay, explains why getting it right matters.
We need to do a better job vetting immigrants. That isn't bigotry; that's sanity. However, loyal, responsible immigrants strengthen America. Americans who happen to be Muslims are -- like my friend -- a key line of defense in stopping Islamic State-influenced terror attacks.Ultimately, that's providing an environment in which recent immigrants can buy into America.
But Our President often gives the impression that he, himself, hasn't really bought into America, attempts to clarify "exceptional nation" in that Sunday snooze-speech not withstanding.