National Security & Defense

President Obama Is Just Not Interested in Defeating ISIS

President Obama speaks to reporters in Turkey, November 16, 2015. (Chris McGrath/Getty)

There was a revealing moment Sunday at the G20 summit in Turkey: As all stood for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Paris terror attacks, Barack Obama walked in late. This is the president who made the start time for the Chicago Bulls home opener just fine, mind you. Still, tardiness has been the norm for the duration of Obama’s presidency. The country and the world are always meant to wait for him, for both revolve around his leisure.

At his departing press conference at the G20 yesterday, Obama made the bold declaration that he’s “not interested in . . . posing or pursuing some notion of ‘American leadership’ or ‘America winning.’” As he enters the twilight of his presidency, 2015 will end the same way it began — with terror attacks in the City of Light and a weak response by him that conveys the sense of his already having one foot out the door. Gone is any semblance of the lively “attack comic,” as Politico recently called him.

Obama’s last Oval Office address, where the camera faded in and we found him waiting for us at his desk, was in August 2010, over five years ago. This is understandable for, as with a rock star, the selling of Obama depends on the stage production. The crowd is meant to pine eagerly at the empty lectern until the entertainer-in-chief arrives from a long hallway, with all in attendance breathlessly awaiting his every precious word.

Except ISIS has made it known it will no longer wait for him.

Maybe we should just be thankful Obama showed up to the moment of silence at all. (Remember, he opted out of the post–Charlie Hebdo attack Paris unity march this past January to stay home and watch NFL football.) During his press conference, Obama seemed weary and frustrated that reporters were asking him genuine questions about his ISIS strategy. In responding, he described the Paris attacks as a “setback.” A setback to what he would not say. His retirement party, perhaps.

During his press conference, Obama seemed weary and frustrated that reporters were asking him genuine questions about his ISIS strategy.

Obama also used the occasion to criticize the Republicans seeking to replace him. Let’s not forget, he played golf just last week with ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, who on his radio show compared the Tea Party to the very people who just brutally executed 129 people in France. Obama has made it quite clear which of the two groups he believes is a bigger threat to the safety of the country and world. But this is a harder sell in front of an international media no longer buying his “JV squad” football spiking.

Unlike Obama, the Republican presidential candidates didn’t appear on television with George Stephanopoulos the day after the attacks and vow that ISIS was “contained.” Evidently, “containment” to Barack Obama is an attack on a train, thwarted only by brave citizens and American servicemen. Containment is ISIS executing 200 children on video the other week. Containment is all signs pointing to ISIS’s having bombed a Russian passenger jet out of the sky. Containment is bomb attacks in Beirut. Containment is ISIS demolishing thousand-year-old temples and archeological sites as our media shed righteous tears on social media.

Containment is our media burying the story of Faisal Mohammed, a college student who went on an ISIS-inspired stabbing rampage on his campus, and choosing to cover Ben Carson’s comments about the pyramids instead.

#related#As Obama bid Turkey farewell, the 20 staff members running the White House Twitter and Facebook accounts were probably wondering about how long it would be appropriate to wait before going back to using grumpy-cat GIFs to push Obamacare. Obama’s social-media presence is second to none when it comes to celebrating National Cat Day or sitting down with YouTube entertainers. Yet when the world looks to their phones for instant leadership and information, the White House goes dark.

So if there’s any bright side to Obama’s embarrassing press-conference performance, it’s that we probably won’t have a new pointless hashtag. Obama has become fundamentally uninterested in leading the world and defeating ISIS, and the Democrats looking to replace him don’t seem any different.

Just last month at the Democratic debate in Las Vegas, moderator Anderson Cooper asked the candidates to name the enemy they are most proud of having. The NRA, Wall Street, and Republicans all made the list. ISIS did not.

Instead of giving a unifying speech in response to the horror of the Paris attacks, Obama chose to play the grumpy cat and blame Republicans for creating a climate that makes it really difficult to let him off the hook for the red lines he himself put in place. If Barack Obama can’t take questions from the international media on his failures to contain ISIS, how is he ever going to deal with Putin or the Chinese?

Most Popular


Jussie Smollett Jokes Declared Off-Limits

The Jussie Smollett story has been declared not fit for jokes. "It's a straight-up tragedy," declares the co-creator of a Comedy Central show, South Side, set in Chicago. Bashir Salahuddin, a former Jimmy Fallon writer, says “The whole situation is unfortunate. Particularly for the city, there’s bigger ... Read More

What The 1619 Project Leaves Out

“The goal of The 1619 Project, a major initiative from The New York Times that this issue of the magazine inaugurates, is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year,” The New York Times Magazine editors declare. “Doing so requires us to place ... Read More
PC Culture

Courage Is the Cure for Political Correctness

This might come as some surprise to observers of our campus culture wars, but there was a time, not long ago, when the situation in American higher education was much worse. There a wave of vicious campus activism aimed at silencing heterodox speakers, and it was typically empowered by a comprehensive regime of ... Read More
Film & TV

The Movies Take On Limbaugh, Levin, et al.

Oh, good, here’s the lefty British comic Steve Coogan to give us his take on American right-wing talk radio. Let’s all settle in for some deep insights. The comedy-drama is dismally titled Hot Air. No, seriously. That’s what they came up with. Coogan’s Lionel Macomb is introduced to us via his ... Read More
White House

Trump’s Ignorant Comments on Israel

Making the click-through worthwhile: figuring out what President Trump meant when he said Jews who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty”; examining the data on how American Jews actually feel about Israel; and why Democrats will always find a way or a reason to avert ... Read More