President Barack Obama has more he could say in response to the questions about ISIL he’s getting pummeled with since the Paris attacks. They’re just not, according to people familiar with his thinking, things that he wants to say out loud.
Things like, “Remember everyone panicking about how much surveillance we’re doing?” Or “How about all those people I’m killing with drones”? Those wouldn’t have quite the right ring for a president who’s come reluctantly, and with continuing reservations, to both.
The sense among White House aides is that there’s a parallel to last year’s freak-out over Ebola and what’s happening now — wall-to-wall panic on cable news, a politicized rush to close the borders, a White House press corps fixation on minor elements like whether the president was appointing a “czar.” And close to no attention to successful efforts to combat the threat, whether a virus or a terrorist network; even a president who operates so often in scold mode isn’t going to downplay the fear he knows people are feeling right now.