Tonight’s speech is hard to grade. I can see it from several angles.
Measured against the president’s record, this was a solid B. He called it terrorism. He admitted the nature of the threat of domestic radicalization, more or less. He even finally admitted that the Fort Hood Shooting was a terrorist attack (better late than never). He was better than he’s been. In other words, he cleared the low bar of my low expectations.
Measured against an objective standard, or even the subjective metric of the president I would like Obama to be, this was a gentleman’s D at best. He only reluctantly conceded this attack was terrorism — days after his own FBI did. He wasn’t even willing to make this concession in his weekly radio address yesterday. He tried to cash in this crisis for credit in his never-ending shopping for gun control. And, predictably, he strained to make the always-impending, but never arriving, “Muslim backlash” as big a threat as Jihadi murderers. Oh, and he even brought up “the right side of history” his all-purpose cop-out.
Ultimately, it felt like the bare minimum, offered in response to political necessity rather than conviction. There was nothing new, but it was better than we had any reason to expect.