Before donning a tux and dashing off to hobnob with celebs at the Kennedy Center Honors, President Obama addressed the nation for roughly a quarter of an hour on terrorism. I do not feel safer after the president's speech. In fact, I agree with Fred Barnes that this speech, coming from the president, gives us ample reason to worry. Barnes wrote:
There are so many reassuring things he could have said. I'm dramatically increasing the number and intensity of air strikes against ISIS in Iran and Syria. I'm halting my plan to close the terrorist prison at Guantanamo and free the incorrigible jihadists no country is willing to take. I'm putting on hold the Syrian refugee program until we developed a process of vetting the refugees in a tougher, unforgiving, and as foolproof as possible way. We heard none of that last night.
The president of course called for more gun control (just the opposite of what some think is needed). And he also spoke as if a wave of Islamophobia is sweeping the country. But it is not. Americans have been remarkably restrained about Muslims in this country. If you want chilling, read what the San Bernardino killer Farouk's father said he told his son about Jews. The president also described ISIS as a perversion of Islam. Is the man a theologian, too?
Jonah Goldberg graded the speech:
Measured against the president’s record, this was a solid B. He called it terrorism. He admitted the nature of the threat of domestic radicalization, more or less. He even finally admitted that the Fort Hood Shooting was a terrorist attack (better late than never). He was better than he’s been. In other words, he cleared the low bar of my low expectations.
Measured against an objective standard, or even the subjective metric of the president I would like Obama to be, this was a gentleman’s D at best. He only reluctantly conceded this attack was terrorism — days after his own FBI did. He wasn’t even willing to make this concession in his weekly radio address yesterday. He tried to cash in this crisis for credit in his never-ending shopping for gun control. And, predictably, he strained to make the always-impending, but never arriving, “Muslim backlash” as big a threat as Jihadi murderers. Oh, and he even brought up “the right side of history” his all-purpose cop-out. Ultimately, it felt like the bare minimum, offered in response to political necessity rather than conviction. There was nothing new, but it was better than we had any reason to expect.
Charles C. W. Cook also commented:
Tonight, President Obama argued that America should not respond to ISIS by “abandoning our values or giving in to fear.” And then he suggested that we gut the Fifth Amendment and cast those who disagree with him as zealots interested only in making sure that everyone is armed.
We will not have a coherent SIS strategy at least until January 2017, and it is anybody's guess what we will get then.