New York Times Columnist: ‘Is the President Consoling Us - or Himself?’

by Jim Geraghty

In keeping with the theme of today’s Morning Jolt, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni is sounding… a lot like some longtime conservative critics of the president, and unnerved by the president’s comments and seeming denial of what’s happening overseas. Responding to Obama’s declaration that “the world has always been messy” at a Democratic party fundraiser Friday, Bruni writes:

When the gut-twisting image stuck in your head is of a masked madman holding a crude knife to the neck of an American on his knees in the desert, when you’re reading about crucifixions in the 21st century, when you’re hearing about women sold by jihadists as sex slaves, and when British leaders have just raised the threat level in their country to “severe,” the last thing that you want to be told is that it’s par for the historical course, all a matter of perspective and not so cosmically dire.

Where’s the reassurance — or the sense of urgency — in that?

And maybe the second-to-last thing that you want to be told is that technology and social media amplify peril in a new way and may be the reason you’re feeling especially on edge. Obama said something along those lines, too. It’s not the terror, folks. It’s the tweets.

Is the president consoling us — or himself? It’s as if he’s taken his interior monologue and wired it to speakers in the town square. And it’s rattling.

Perhaps when Air Force One arrives in Estonia and President Obama appears before the press, he will come out with fire in his eyes. Perhaps he will pledge to unleash the full wrath of the arsenal of democracy against ISIS for the barbaric crime of beheading a second American. Perhaps he will use his favorite phrase, “let me be clear,” and send a message to Vladimir Putin that further shenanigans in Ukraine are an act of war, and that if Putin wants to boast that he get to Kiev in two weeks, NATO can prove that it get there quicker as an invited ally. Maybe he’ll come out and be a strong, decisive, confidence-inspiring, oh-so-slightly menacing wartime commander-in-chief.

But maybe not.


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