I too am surprised to find that it’s now newsy for the president to offer his condolences to the victims after a terror attack, but since the online left has decided that “thoughts and prayers” is really just wingnut code for “I endorse mass murder,” O saying what he said here has a faint whiff of rebuke about it. That’s where we are with progressivism circa 2015. Be careful about using an expression of sympathy that each of them has used hundreds of times before. You never know when a common phrase might suddenly be declared Disfavored.
What really happened here, I think, is that Obama didn’t get the memo. He’s a busy man. He had better things to do yesterday than keeping up on the latest meme-ified lefty talking points. Debbie Wasserman Schultz got the memo, though:
“Today, another horrifying mass shooting has thrown another American community into agony. The victims of this mass shooting, their families, and the community of San Bernardino are in our thoughts tonight, but our thoughts are not enough,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “Thoughts won’t reduce gun violence in our country. Sensible reforms will.”
Or maybe O got the memo and decided that it’s not in Democrats’ political interest to be seen ostentatiously goofing on people offering prayers for their fellow Americans after a terror attack. Russell Moore, a Baptist leader, has an op-ed out in WaPo this afternoon politely encouraging liberals to stop acting like such smug, peevish A-holes in grumbling about “thoughts and prayers”:
The first response to a word of our fellow citizens in peril should be a human response of empathy. For religious people, that means a call to pray for them, and to encourage others of like mind to do so.
For non-religious people, that means perhaps holding your loved ones tightly and realizing your, for lack of a better word, blessings. It shouldn’t mean an immediate search for who is to blame for holding the wrong opinions.
For religious people, of all sorts, prayer is doing something. We do believe that God can intervene, to comfort the hurting and even to energize ourselves and others for right action. For those who don’t believe in the power of prayer, the last thing any of us should want is social pressure to pretend to pray. What we can expect, though, is for neighbors to express in what ever ways they have, “We love one another, and we hurt for one another.”
Now, watch the clip below and note both Obama’s demeanor and how brief and perfunctory his bit about gun control is. Ace half-joked on Twitter last night that O’s mood today would depend entirely on the identity of the suspects. If the shooter was non-Muslim, Obama would be in high-energy righteous-anger mode, declaring that “enough is enough” with America’s tolerance of gun rights and mass shootings. If the shooter was Muslim, he’d be subdued and cautious and the “enough is enough” rhetoric would be toned down. How’d that prediction turn out? There’s a lot that goes into that calculus. Partly it’s the fact that the left is forever convinced that the next jihadi attack on America will unleash a pogrom against Muslims by crazed right-wingers, therefore it’s important that they not get too angry themselves when a jihadi attack happens. Partly it’s simple mindless “privilege” politics: A perpetrator who’s Arab and/or Muslim is less privileged than a white Christian like Robert Dear and accordingly can’t be held morally responsible for his actions to the same degree. And partly it’s Obama’s awareness that job one for him as head of the executive branch is preventing terror attacks in America. He failed here, and getting angry about gun control instead of that intelligence failure would reek of misdirection.
But the difference in O’s mood is also a clue that he sees jihadi terrorism as something qualitatively different from domestic terrorism, at least in terms of how containable the problem is. If Robert Dear shoots up a Planned Parenthood, that’s a crime we could and should be able to prevent with tougher gun laws. If Syed Farook shoots up a Christmas party, well, you know how sophisticated jihadis are. They’re going to find a way to get their hands on weapons no matter how much gun control you have. (See, e.g., Paris.) What he’s telling you here with his sense of resignation, in other words, is that even the gun-grabber-in-chief accepts that truly committed monsters won’t be deterred by anti-gun laws. That’s kind of a big deal to the gun-control debate, no?