Donald Trump’s recent comments regarding Muslims diverted the public’s attention from President Obama’s address Dec. 6 on terrorism. While the Donald is always good grist for the media, he’s not the president of the United States. Barack Obama is, so what he had to say – or not say in this case – is vastly more important.
The hope was that our president would tell Americans what they so desperately wanted to hear: that he will fight Islamic terrorism – especially in this country – with every means at his disposal. What they heard instead was more of Obama’s patronizing and condescending line – don’t worry, I have everything under control, trust me. He was like a father gently telling his son that there’s no reason to be afraid of the dark.
I might be inclined to take Obama at his word if he had a better track record. But under his presidency there have been 23 attacks on American soil by jihadists, with more than 60 people killed and scores wounded, according to one accounting. The buck stops with him when it comes to protecting Americans, and he’s been doing a lousy job of it.
Where was his sense of urgency in his brief talk? What new steps did he announce to confront this threat? Why so cool, calm and collected at a time when his countrymen are being slaughtered in increasing numbers? How about a show of anger now and then, of resolve, of – for Pete’s sake — leadership?
I remember President George W. Bush’s rousing address to Congress after the 9-11 attacks, which rallied the nation, and the steps he ordered to keep us safe thereafter. Obama’s speech – which struck exactly the wrong note – probably led many viewers to reach for the selector.
The president spent a good part of his speech assuring us that only a “tiny fraction” of Muslims is doing bad things. I’ve always been skeptical of that claim. I suspect the threat is much deeper and wider than we’ve been led to believe.
The United States will “destroy ISIS,” said Obama, another familiar promise. Yet, as commander in chief he has done the bare minimum to bring that about. Of equal concern, he has dismantled important parts of our intelligence-gathering capability, which are crucial to detecting and preventing terrorist attacks.
When a French socialist president recognizes that the West is in a “war,” puts together a coalition to prosecute that war, and takes emergency steps to protect his people following the horrendous terrorist attacks last month in Paris, America suddenly appears irrelevant. I know our president likes to “lead from behind,” but we’re so far behind as to be practically invisible.
The Islamist war against the West is nothing new, but the resurgence of a conflict that threatened Europe for a thousand years is. It’s the most serious challenge we have faced since the Cold War. We urgently need to be led by a bold, determined and courageous president, who is prepared to not only eliminate the domestic terrorism threat but to strike at its heart in the Middle East and wherever else it is to be found.
Unfortunately for America, Barack Obama has made it clear that he’s not that president. Let’s hope we can hold out for another year.
Doug Kneibert is a former editor of the Sedalia Democrat.