The White House is paralyzed, the president among the coldest of the frozen. He erects straw men, focuses on what he will not do, refuses to “play Whac A Mole,” waxes on about reading a book about the pains of the deployed. He’s showing how sensitive, layered and alive to moral complexity he is instead of, you know, leading. At the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday, he airily and from a great height explained to the audience that ISIS exists within a historical context that includes the Inquisition, slavery and Jim Crow. “People committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.” Oh West, you big hypocrite. This is just the moment to dilate on Christendom’s sins, isn’t it? While Christians are being driven from the Mideast? He always says these things as if he’s the enlightened one facing the facts of the buried past instead of the cornered one defeated by complexity, hard calls and ambivalence.
He is lost. His policy is listlessness punctuated by occasional booms.
The public is agitated by the latest killing, of the Jordanian pilot burned alive. That murder may have changed some calculations. Jordan’s King Abdullah is said to have quoted Clint Eastwood during his recent Washington trip: “He mentioned ‘Unforgiven,’ ” a congressman said, without specifying which scene. Well, good.