Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Obama's blindness on terrorism is dangerous
Commentary by James H. Shott
How far down the following list do you have to read before you realize that a terrorist attack has been attempted?
1. A passenger on a flight into Detroit tried unsuccessfully to blow up the plane with a bomb in his underwear
2. The passenger bought his one-way ticket to the U.S. in Amsterdam with cash, and had no luggage
3. His father had contacted authorities to warn them that he believed his son was dangerous
4. He is a young Nigerian Muslim
If you didn’t realize after item 1 that a terrorist attack had been attempted, you share a glaring blind spot about terrorism with the President of the United States.
I’m betting that almost everybody knew immediately upon hearing the news that some savage had tried to blow up a plane with explosives in his underwear that it was a terrorist attack. But not Barack Obama. He told the nation it was the work of an “isolated extremist.”
Further, I am betting a huge majority of people expected that the bomber was a Muslim. Radical Muslims have trained us through experience with dozens of previous terrorist acts that, odds are, a terrorist attack is likely the work of a Muslim. But not Barack Obama. He does not acknowledge that these “extremists,” whether isolated or not, are Muslims.
The President’s attitude toward terrorism, which prevents him from calling a terrorist attack a terrorist attack, can be seen throughout his administration. It is an upside-down, wishful thinking perspective that places leftist ideology above national security, and it is truly frightening.
The president tells us repeatedly that the current health care system is a failure, and that Americans will die and lose their homes if it isn’t fixed pronto. He tells us that mankind’s excesses are heating the environment and if we don’t act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to pre-industrial levels, thereby making the price of energy and everything else much higher in the process, the seas will rise, crops will wither, the ice caps will melt and the polar bears will go extinct. And that is what he has focused on in his first year as president.
However, for most of 2009 the most important thing to Americans was not health care reform or cap and trade, it was job creation, by a 20-point margin. Health care was a distant second, and the environment was barely on the list.
Job creation got little real attention from the administration, other than lip service. It was supposedly the target of the near-trillion dollar stimulus bill, which was a great pork program, but did nothing to encourage job creation.
Following the failed Christmas Day attack, terrorism rose immediately to the top of the list again for most Americans, but not for the administration. Mr. Obama’s aides waited for nearly three hours after the attack to wake him up and tell him about it. He, then, waited three more days before appearing to make a public statement. He didn't grasp the seriousness of the situation, and he sped through a weak public statement that left too much unsaid so he could get back out on the golf course.
His ability to minimize the importance and likelihood of terrorist attacks on our shores, and instead emphasize ideological issues that are far less critical, is truly remarkable. And, it is more than a little disconcerting. Protecting the nation against such attacks is a legitimate, obligatory function of the presidency, whereas taking over the health care system and increasing control over the energy sector are not legitimate functions on the President.
Perhaps Mr. Obama will at some point grasp the full significance of the Christmas Day attack, as he seems to be doing, if very slowly. Once that recognition occurs, there is the possibility that he will recognize that the least effective way to deal with terrorists captured on the battlefield – whether that battlefield is in the caves of Afghanistan, a village in Yemen, an apartment building in a U.S. city, or on an airliner – treating them as mere criminals is foolish in the extreme.
Criminals are criminals and terrorists are terrorists, and never the twain shall meet.
Instead of recognizing the terrorist threat and focusing on preventing more attacks, the president wants to prosecute CIA agents who acted in good faith to thwart terrorists and to free Guantanamo Bay prisoners. And his stubborn determination to ultimately close Guantanamo Bay smacks of an attitude about terrorism undisturbed by facts or common sense.
It is almost as if Mr. Obama views his election as president as a mandate to enact his radical leftist agenda, and what happens outside that narrow zone is in another, distant universe. Except that every now and then something in the other universe comes along and interrupts him, like the failed Christmas Day attack.
We should hope and pray that he finally has his attention focused on the very real threat of terrorism, and that he will now be more adamant about protecting the country than he is on reforming it.
Cross-posted from Observations