Via Mediaite, I … suppose that’s one way to look at it. Not the way the left looked at it when Bush went golfing, of course. Then it was evidence of Dubya’s essential chimp-like callousness, proof that war was just another game to him. (Unlike Obama, Bush eventually agreed that golfing during wartime was in poor taste and stopped.) And Bush’s encouragement to America to keep shopping after 9/11, a variation on “keep calm and carry on,” was also crapped on by liberals for years afterward as a pedestrian call to arms after national tragedy eschewing real sacrifice. I wonder, if America gets hit by ISIS tomorrow, whether a White House that’s forever jittery about economic backsliding would consider it important for people not to start hoarding cash under their mattresses. In this, as in so many counterterrorism matters, most liberals are frauds who’ll tolerate or even defend actions taken by Obama that they claimed to find deeply offensive from Bush.
But we already knew that. More importantly: Is Scarborough right? Was ISIS maybe thinking of hijacking a plane and steering it into a skyscraper until they noticed President Pitching Wedge teeing off on Martha’s Vineyard, at which point they concluded that they don’t dare? The “cold bastard” routine would be more convincing, I’d think, if O wasn’t in the habit of announcing red lines he later refused to enforce and handing over Taliban prisoners at Gitmo in exchange for an apparent deserter. At the very least, I think we can safely conclude that ISIS’s reaction to these optics is unpredictable. The mind of someone who’d saw off an innocent man’s head to make a point is a mind not easily knowable by civilized people. Maybe ISIS will take Obama’s golfing as a rebuke, that America refuses to tremble when jihadis murder a man on camera. Or maybe they’ll take it as a challenge, resolved to torture and kill Steven Sotloff in an even more brutal way than James Foley to see if that’ll get Obama’s attention. Plus, domestic “optics” aren’t separate from foreign “optics,” as Scarborough seems to imply at one point here. If Obama wants to do real damage to ISIS, he should be using what little political capital he has left to build public support for a broad, ferocious campaign. He has a rare but real opportunity to do that; I’ve seen at least one poll that shows Republicans support his airstrikes against ISIS in greater numbers than Democrats do. Screwing around on the golf course doesn’t signal the public that he’s serious about this. It signals the opposite. In which case, why get behind him for another risky campaign in Iraq?