Obama signed POMA even though it cut sharply against his Maximum Pain strategy, but that was because he had his usual Plan B: ignore federal law. As Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky explained on the Corner, administration lawyers issued tortuous guidance, twisting a statute that directs the payment of death benefits into a prohibition against the payment of death benefits. The idea was to add POMA to the community organizer’s propaganda campaign: to show that the Republicans would betray even our fallen heroes if that’s what it took to deny health care to millions of Americans.
But the president who slept through the Benghazi massacre once again forgot that our military is not just an agitprop. Our soldiers really do put their lives on the line, and lose them — as did the one marine and four soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan last weekend. That made it all too real. When bereaved families were suddenly denied death benefits by our government, there was no hiding the fact that the commander-in-chief had, yet again, abandoned those who’d made the ultimate patriotic sacrifice. What’s more, this dereliction was nothing more than crass political calculation — or, as it turned out, miscalculation.
Public anger erupted and even the Associated Press courtiers were reduced to reporting a sharp drop in the president’s approval rating. Congressional Democrats scrambled and a superfluous, face-saving death-benefits law was enacted so the White House could try to pretend the president now had payment authority he’d previously lacked. Administration lawyers continue to mumble about how, though Obama felt really terrible about it, the perfectly clear POMA had been “too vague” to help military families in their time of need.
You know, there’s also a 1996 law on the federal books that makes it a felony to provide material support to terrorists. It’s not vague. In fact, it’s clear as a bell, according to the many federal courts that have applied it in sentencing scores of jihadist-abettors to hundreds of years in prison.
Don’t you find it strange, don’t you think the public at large would find it strange, that in a shutdown Obama has instigated in order to enforce the Obamacare law Americans don’t want, he so skews the rest of our law that his administration says we can fund al-Qaeda but we can’t fund the families of our war dead?
What a great argument that would be for Republicans . . . if only they were on the right side of it. But they’re not. So let’s roll over on Obamacare, get behind the Syrian jihadists, and make sure everyone knows Ted Cruz is the delusional one around here.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.