The Audience Is Listening
Obama gives jihadists the olive branch and Ryan the hickory stick.


Andrew C. McCarthy

There is always great intrigue in Barack Obama’s speeches. Not much heft, mind you, but substance is not the point. In this Chicago-style presidency, what is said is often less telling than who is invited to hear what is said. That’s where you find out who is in and who is out.

Count Rep. Paul Ryan among the outs. The GOP budget guru got a coveted invitation to hear the president outline his new vision for escaping the economic catastrophe wrought by his current vision. The speech was much anticipated, because it was Ryan’s own ambitious plan to slash trillions in spending that roused Obama from his customary crouch in the tall grass.

Ryan was reeled in by the suggestion that the invitation was an olive branch, a White House concession that he had grappled responsibly with a monstrous problem and that a gracious, cooperative presidential response was in order. But it was a setup. The Chicago mob strategically seated Ryan a few paces from the lectern, whence the don went Al Capone on him. The congressman was made into a prop, Exhibit A in a presidential tirade that mocked his plan and his party as scourges of the elderly, the destitute, and the chronically ill.

It wasn’t that way in Cairo in June 2009. That was when al-Azhar University — the font of Sunni theology and training ground for the virulently anti-American clerics who green-light jihadist terror — sponsored his eagerly awaited oration on U.S. relations with the Muslim world. As usual, the speech was specious: a whitewash of the legacy of Islamic savagery, the expurgation of violent injunctions from Islamic scripture, historical ignorance of the Jewish claim to Israel, and even the adoption of “resistance” as the euphemism for Palestinian terrorism — a touch that must have brought a smile to the faces of Hamas and the president’s pal Rashid Khalidi, the former PLO mouthpiece turned Columbia professor.

More interesting than the speech, though, was the guest list. The Obama administration made a point of inviting prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood. And they didn’t get the Paul Ryan treatment. This really was an olive branch, more like the Corleones having the Tartaglias over for a sit-down. The ramifications rumbled through both Egypt and the United States.

The Mubarak regime fulminated. The Brotherhood was at that time a banned organization — having attempted to murder one of Mubarak’s predecessors and succeeded in offing the other. Now, of course, after more than two years of what passes for Obama’s foreign policy, gone is Mubarak — a despot to be sure, but a staunch American ally against terrorism, and one who kept the peace with Israel for 30 years. Poised to fill the power void is the Brotherhood, anti-American Islamists who seek to disappear Israel (for starters) but who lull progressive elites by smearing the catnip of democratic rhetoric over their pursuit of a sharia state.

Still, we don’t control Egypt. We have to take it as we find it, and that means taking it as a predominantly fundamentalist Arab Muslim society where, unavoidably, the Brotherhood enjoys a strong following. Our own country is quite something else. It is in the management of domestic affairs that the Obama administration’s Brotherhood outreach is veering from the outrageous to the downright scandalous.

In 2008, not long before Obama’s Cairo speech, the Brotherhood was proved to be the prime mover in the biggest terrorism-financing conspiracy ever prosecuted by the Justice Department — specifically, by the Bush-era U.S. attorney’s office in Dallas. Five defendants were convicted in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) case of routing tens of millions of dollars to Hamas during the intifada. As its charter attests, Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch. Since its creation in the late 1980s, Hamas’s sustenance has been the top priority of the Brotherhood’s U.S. operatives, including Mousa abu Marzook, who actually ran Hamas from his Virginia home in the early 1990s.

Using documents seized by the FBI from a Brotherhood leader, prosecutors proved that the organization considers itself to be engaged in a “grand jihad” (the title of my book on the subject). The goal, in the Brotherhood’s own words, is to destroy Western civilization from within by sabotage. The Brothers seek to accomplish this through companion organizations they’ve embedded in the West, groups like the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), and CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations).