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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Welcome Back to Wartime With President Obama



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From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

The cover of the New York Daily News this morning:

Or take a look at the response from…. Chris Matthews:

“I don’t know why he used the word ‘justice.’ It’s not appropriate here. This is an attack on our country, we have to react to it,” an upset Chris Matthews reacted to a video excerpt of President Obama’s statement today about the beheading by an ISIS member of American freelance journalist James Foley. 

“This is our country versus this group that’s declared war on us. What’s justice mean in this con– I don’t know why the word’s used, like we’re going to go to the World Court with this?!” Matthews sneered to guest Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post Media Group on the August 20 edition of Hardball. Later in the segment, an irate Matthews insisted “no American president can survive if he lets Americans be beheaded on international television with impunity. Impunity! He has to strike back, as an American, it’s in our soul!”

I could quote Mollie Hemingway just about every day, but her thoughts on our response to the Foley outrage are particularly good. I suspect she’s way more skeptical and disinclined towards foreign military actions than I am, but her “have we thought this through” points are always worth examining. And here she perfectly isolates that section of Obama’s soaring optimistic rhetoric that sets off the BS detector deep within our brain stem:

That’s why they say 3) unbelievably inane things such as, “you’re on the wrong side of history.” Or “The future is always won by those who build, not destroy.” That is literally Mickey Mouse philosophy. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

President Obama’s utopian fantasy of “the future” “always” being “won by those who build, not destroy” is just obviously and resoundingly false, for better or worse. I mean, define “future.” And define “winning” and “building vs. destroying.” Tamerlane had tremendous success destroying and slaughtering his enemies — for most of a century. And World War II didn’t end by building up Nagasaki. There are good winners and bad winners littered throughout history.

What’s more, this “wrong side of history” nonsense is nothing more than a religious belief in supernatural causality. It implies that history isn’t shaped by men but, instead, by outside inevitable forces that can always be counted on. If this were so, we wouldn’t need to work so hard to raise up good children and fight the evils all around us.

Obama’s had this tic for a long time, and what’s fascinating is that he clings to it – bitterly? – even after five and a half years of being president. David Brooks, back in 2008:

Obama speeches almost always have the same narrative arc. Some problem threatens. The odds are against the forces of righteousness. But then people of good faith unite and walls come tumbling down. Obama used the word “walls” 16 times in the Berlin speech, and in 11 of those cases, he was talking about walls coming down.

The Berlin blockade was thwarted because people came together. Apartheid ended because people came together and walls tumbled. Winning the cold war was the same: “People of the world,” Obama declared, “look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together and history proved there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.”

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, West Point graduate and former Army cavalry officer, is…. somewhat less than inspired by the president’s response so far:

“The President is correct that terrorist groups like ISIS don’t belong in the 21st Century and that we must be relentless to see that justice is done. But there is another, even greater reason the United States must take action: To prevent more Americans from being killed. The President is wrong to continue to downplay this threat by saying that ISIS is claiming to be at war with America merely out of expediency, or that ISIS is motivated by sheer ‘nihilism.’ This is not a “J.V. team,” as the President has put it. ISIS is an army of cold-blooded killers motivated by radical Islam. They continue their march, uninterrupted, to convert by the sword, kill Christians and other religious minorities, and expand their control of the Middle East. The Iraqis have already demonstrated that they cannot stop them on their own. The President’s current path of action has been far too limited to make a difference. We must do what is necessary to eliminate ISIS, protect the innocent, and keep Americans safe.”


Tags: Barack Obama


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