President Obama was affectless (Karen Tumulty's word) and tieless at yesterday’s strange press conference in Washington, D.C. He spoke about two crises—Iraq and Ferguson—and reassured on neither. For this passionless performance President Obama interrupted his vacay?
On Iraq, the president rightly hailed the retaking of the Mosul dam by Kurdish and Iraqi forces with U.S. air support and acknowledged that ISIS poses a security threat to the U.S. But he made it clear that the administration will depend on the almost non-existent Iraqi government—which must become “inclusive”—to contain but not destroy ISIS.
He failed to acknowledge that Iraqi Christians, who have lived in Iraq for nearly eighteen hundred years, are in mortal peril similar to the Yazidis. The president referred to ISIS as a group that “seems willing to slaughter people for no reason other than they will not kowtow to them.” Seems?
President Obama was slightly more awake when he addressed the violence that erupted in Ferguson. Mo., in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown, who was an African American teen, by a white policeman.
The president said we should not “holler at each other,” which given the level of violence in Ferguson is on a par with saying that ISIS seems willing to slaughter people. The president referred to “tensions” in Ferguson, which—again—is an inadequate description of what is happening there. The president's call for calm in Ferguson fell on deaf ears–the town erupted again last night.
The president attributed much of the violence to a “small minority” and outsiders, but a ringing condemnation of these two groups, one including members of the militant New Black Panther Party, was in order. We didn’t get it.
Nor did the president remind the rioters in Ferguson that Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown, deserves a fair hearing. If he shot Michael Brown in cold blood, he must be punished. Our hearts go out to Michael Brown’s family, who must be suffering unimaginably, but we really need to find out what happened.
Conservative Tree House (fast becoming a favorite website) spotted a sign a protester was holding on the Anderson Cooper Ferguson special that “accidentally captured the mindset” of the protest. It read:
You’ve Killed Our Kind for 4 Years But Won’t Sacrifice 1 Cop For Justice & To Save A Community & These Businesses
The most depressing part of the president’s Ferguson segment of the lackluster presser dealt with black youths. There is no denying that the United States has an ugly racial history, but there is also no denying that as a society we have tried to overcome the sins of the past. President Obama persists in seeing such problems as disproportionate suspensions of black children from schools and incarceration as evidence not of problems in the black community (foremost among these problems: single-parent households) but of racism.
Indeed, his remarks on Ferguson yesterday were disturbing in the very same way his famous speech on race during his first campaign was: he doesn’t condone the violence in Ferguson—just as he didn’t condone the words of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who occasioned the original speech—but he can sort of see how it came about. As Roger Simon writes on PJ Media, African Americans are often encouraged to see themselves as victims.
President Obama had a great opportunity to promote racial harmony to the United States. He could have talked more about opportunity and preparing to take advantage of opportunities and less about racism. But even if he were to have a change of heart, it is likely too late in his presidency and he is too diminished a figure to do much at this point.