This is actually a shot directed primarily at Chris Christie, who emphasized his opposition to admitting Syrian refugees by demanding that no one be admitted — not even orphaned infants on their own. But Barack Obama used that to launch a broad rebuke to Republicans who are balking at the idea of admitting refugees after the Paris attacks turned out to have recent refugees as part of the terrorist operation. And it’s not actually the widows and children that worry them, a point that Obama ignores in favor of a cheap shot:
President Obama is lashing out at Republican politicians who oppose allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S., accusing them of being “scared of widows and orphans.”
Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning in the Philippines, Obama scoffed at attempts to block refugees following the Paris terror attacks as “political posturing” that “needs to stop.”
“Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America,” Obama said of Republicans. “At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three year old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.”
Obama apparently directed his ire at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who said Tuesday he opposes allowing people fleeing the conflict in Syria to resettle in the U.S., even “orphans under five.”
Christie aside, most Republicans might take a more welcoming stance if all we admitted were widows and orphans. It’s the men — and more specifically, the younger and single men — that are the higher risk. In fact, Jeb Bush challenged Obama to prioritize admittance to widows and orphans, as well as another low-risk group from the region:
During a campaign stop in Florence, S.C., on Tuesday, Bush said: “At a minimum, we ought to be bringing people like orphans and people who are clearly not going to be terrorists. Or Christians. There are no Christian terrorists in the Middle East, they’re persecuted, they are religious minorities.”
Later, at another even, Bush said disputed Obama’s characterization that he doesn’t have sympathy for Muslims suffering from the violence. “Well, I do,” he said. “We all have sympathies for people who have been uprooted. … But we have a duty to protect our country as well. And that’s the point.”
It’s the point that Obama keeps trying to minimize, if not outright avoid. He claimed those risks are mitigated in US security screening, and the White House is on a full-court press to make that case this week. But it was only a month ago that FBI Director James Comey told Congress that “gaps remain” in vetting Syrian refugees, and that two convicted terrorists managed to slip through the cracks:
FBI Director James Comey added in congressional testimony last month that “a number of people who were of serious concern” slipped through the screening of Iraq War refugees, including two arrested on terrorism-related charges. “There’s no doubt that was the product of a less than excellent vetting,” he said.
Although Comey said the process has since “improved dramatically,” Syrian refugees will be even harder to check because, unlike in Iraq, U.S. soldiers have not been on the ground collecting information on the local population. “If we don’t know much about somebody, there won’t be anything in our data,” he said. “I can’t sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that there’s no risk associated with this.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley hits the nail on the head. Opponents of Obama’s plan to resettle Syrian refugees aren’t afraid of widows and orphans — they just don’t trust Obama to tell the truth about anything associated with his policies in the region:
His additional explanation failed, of course, not because he’s a poor communicator but because he is attempting to push a political narrative so spectacularly at odds with recent events. Inside of a month, ISIS, which already controls territory in Iraq and Syria, has claimed responsibility for crashing a Russian jetliner, along with bombings in Beirut and now the massacre in Paris. ISIS is targeting police officers, soldiers, concertgoers and soccer spectators. U.S. allies are nervous and the American public is afraid, yet Mr. Obama insisted that “we have the right strategy and we’re going to see it through.”
That White House strategy involves resettling in the U.S. next year some 10,000 displaced Syrians to help alleviate the worst refugee crisis since World War II. More than half of the nation’s governors, citing security risks, are balking at this prospect. The Republican-controlled Congress will almost certainly try to stop resettlement, perhaps by blocking appropriations for it. …
To the public, the merits of Mr. Obama’s pro-refugee arguments matter less than the growing perception that ISIS is ascendant and has the ability to strike where and when it pleases. If the president wants Americans to help him do something about a worsening humanitarian crisis, he ought to show them that he’s doing something about Islamic State other than misleadingly insisting that the group has been “contained” and that his strategy has been effective.
So far, people are unpersuaded—and that includes a growing number of those in the media who typically do his bidding.
Predictably, the President continues to cheap-shot his opposition via straw-men arguments (while overseas) while demanding we believe what has been proven to be a false narrative, rather than come home to deal with the crisis with actual dialogue and some honesty. The person who is serving refugees worst at the moment is Barack Obama.
Update: Updated the video, courtesy of our friends at Grabien.com.