At least in my neck of the woods there was a definitely tense air of anticipation leading up to the President’s speech from the Oval Office last night. There were several possibilities under consideration as to what might come of it, some hopeful and some causing a sense of dread. On the potentially positive side, would Barack Obama admit that our current “strategy” for dealing with the Islamic terror enemy has faltered (to say the least) and announce some bold new initiative? On the negative side of the scale, would he pull out his pen and his phone and attempt to enact some sweeping new gun grabbing measures via executive fiat? Shortly before the kickoff of the Pittsburgh Steelers game we had our answer.
The President delivered… neither. What we received from this historic, rare address from in front of his own desk was yet another ration of the same old, same old. The nation was lectured about not being too reactionary and assured that he planned to stay the course with the same playbook which has thus far done virtually nothing to defeat the evil which confronts us. Much like Oliver bringing his bowl to the headmaster and asking for more, Obama pleaded with Congress to grant him the authority to go to war with ISIS. I happen to agree that it wouldn’t be bad for the legislative branch to get off their collective duffs and draft something along those lines, if only to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s. But there’s absolutely nothing stopping him from acting on his own right now and forcing Congress to follow behind.
On the gun control front, he simply reiterated the same requests he’s been making for ages… requests which are essentially non-starters. He once again claimed that lax gun laws are a gaping hole in our strategy against the terrorists, though no law currently under consideration would have stopped the killers in San Bernardino. We heard another airing of the complaint that people on the No-Fly list can buy “assault rifles.” I was left wondering how Second Amendment restrictions might affect the job duties of the more than 70 workers at the Department of Homeland Security who are on the list. And are we only to restrict No-Fly list “potential terrorists” from getting rifles? Does that mean it’s okay for them to purchase Glock G17s? The nonsense on that front apparently caused no harm, but simply cluttered the issue with more political noise.
Many viewers in our comments section quickly noted something that Politico picked up on as well: the President doesn’t even seem to be clear on what went wrong in San Bernardino. He made a claim about one of the terrorists which was simply not true.
“I’ve ordered the departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa waiver program under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino originally came to this country,” Obama said in the prime-time address.
This is simply not correct. (Politico)
President Barack Obama’s carefully scripted Sunday night address to the nation included at least one mistake.
Obama said he’d requested a review of the “visa waiver program” under which one of the suspected San Bernardino attackers arrived in the United States. But that alleged assailant, Tashfeen Malik, came under a fiancé visa; she didn’t arrive under the program that waives a visa requirement.
Perhaps even worse than the lack of any substance, new ideas or hope for progress coming out of the speech was the tiresome tone which the President took with the nation. It wasn’t uplifting or forceful or even understanding of the feelings of the people he was elected to lead. It was yet another lecture, tinged with a hint of disappointment in how we could all be so foolish as to question him. Over at National Review, Jim Geraghty picked up on the same thing.
At this point in his presidency, Obama speaks with only one tone, the slightly exasperated and sometimes not-merely-slightly exasperated “adult in the room” who constantly has to correct his fellow Americans, who are always flying off the handle, calling for options that “aren’t who we are,” betraying our values, and so on. He’s always so disappointed in us.
At certain points, Obama sounded as if he was speaking to children. “The threat is real, but we will overcome it.” “We will not defeat it with tough talk, abandoning our values, or giving in to fear.” “We will prevail by being strong and smart.”
Jim does a good job of capturing what really had me irritated by the end of the speech. The President isn’t angry at the enemy so much as he’s disappointed in the American people. We’ve let him down terribly and it shows in his countenance behind the podium. He can’t understand why we’re such a bunch of hateful reactionaries and why we might actually want him to start checking out the mosques and determining if there’s another Tashfeen Malik out there whose friends might not have found worth the bother of mentioning to the authorities. He can’t seem to grasp why record numbers of Americans are clinging to their Second Amendment rights in the hopes of defending themselves the next time this happens. We’re simply a mystery to the man, but he’s willing to patiently explain to all of us yet again why he’s right and we’re wrong about virtually everything.
This speech was supposed to be a major event. It was to be a prime time revelation and a rallying cry from our highest elected official, letting us know that we were getting back on track, there was a steady hand on the tiller and relief was on the way. What we received was another session of tongue clucking from our betters and a reminder that there is no help on the horizon. For the next thirteen months you are on your own, America. Good luck to us all.