National Security & Defense

It’s Not Just Republicans Who Distrust Obama on the Refugee Question

(Mark Wilson/Getty)

President Obama took his post-Paris traveling reprimand circus to the Economic Cooperation Summit in Manila yesterday, where he continued his taunting of the real enemy in the wake of the attacks and the refugee debate simmering in response to them: Republicans at home. From his press conference earlier today:

These are the same folks who suggested they’re so tough that just talking to Putin or staring down ISIL . . . is going to solve the problems out there . . . but apparently they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion. At first they were worried about the press being too tough on them during debates. Now they’re worried about three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me.

He went on to state that he “cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here in the course of this debate.”

Just as Obama was wrapping up his angry rant, French police were in the midst of a raid and firefight in the Paris suburb of St. Denis that, by the time it was over, would see five officers injured and a police dog killed. One of the suspects killed was a woman, Hasna Aitboulahcen, who detonated a suicide vest when police arrived at the scene. She was the cousin of the suspected mastermind of the attacks, Abelhamid Abaaoud, who was also killed in the raid.

Reality has a way of embarrassing Barack Obama on its own, without help from Republicans.

RELATED: There Are Serious, Unbigoted Reasons to Be Wary of a Flood of Syrian Refugees

The president always seems to be at his rhetorical boldest when he is the farthest away he can possibly be from the country he governs. But missing from Obama’s personal Thrilla in Manilla anti-GOP tirade — and very deliberately so — was any mention of those Democratic colleagues of his who have also expressed concerns about admitting refugees into the country at such a volatile time.

Dianne Feinstein apparently didn’t get the administration’s Cliff’s Notes on Responding to Republican Rhetoric before issuing this November 16 statement:

In light of the Paris attacks, keeping our borders secure from ISIL terrorists must be our number one priority. As part of that, we need to be very careful about Syrian refugee admissions and ensure we can continue to balance our security with helping those most in need.

On the question of refugee resettlement, Chuck Schumer told The Hill: “A pause may be necessary. We’re going to look at it.”

#share#Joe Manchin somehow dodged the president’s ire in Manilla despite drafting an official letter to the Oval Office stating:

As we mourn the loss of life and provide France all the support and assistance it needs, the U.S. government must redouble its efforts to keep the American people safe. We believe that an essential component of that effort is ensuring that no refugee related to the Syrian crisis is admitted to the United States unless the U.S. government can guarantee, with 100 percent assurance, that they are not members, supporters, or sympathizers of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as Daesh or ISIL.

Also curious about Obama’s lecture was his blaming Congress for delaying for over a year a new AUMF authorization to combat ISIS — even though the United States has proceeded with anti-ISIS air strikes and drone attacks since summer of last year without one. The media was quick to spike the football in collectively praising this “sick burn” by the president, but lost amidst the gloating was the fact that Hillary Clinton (as well as the administration) stated just this past Saturday that no new AUMF was needed.

RELATED: ’But We’re a Nation of Immigrants’ Just Won’t Cut It This Time

“Well, we have an authorization to use military force against terrorists. We passed it after 9/11.” Mrs. Clinton stated in response to a question from John Dickerson. When asked again if she believed that the current situation is covered, she confirmed, “It certainly does cover it. I would like to see it updated.”

#related#The president can reprimand Republicans from overseas all he wants but he can’t avoid the fact that he has been out of touch and disengaged on this from the start. When the world’s attention was captivated by the body of young Syrian Aylan Kurdi washing up on a beach in Greece, Obama was “wandering around Alaska with a selfie stick.” When he sat down for an interview with George Stephanopoulos and made the claim that ISIS was “contained,” its terrorists were en route to Paris cafés, sports venues, and music halls. When Obama was directing his ire toward Republican governors over their national-security concerns, German stadiums were being evacuated and French police were under assault by jihadists.

What Barack Obama doesn’t understand about the displays of prudence from both the Left and Right on the refugee question is that this isn’t just about the refugees themselves. It’s also that, given the promises he’s failed to keep on everything from health care to the Iran nuclear deal, we simply just don’t trust him anymore.

— Stephen L. Miller is a writer living in Brooklyn, N.Y. He publishes The Wilderness, which focuses on viral politics and social media.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated since its initial posting.


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