President Obama is not known as a particularly passionate person, at least on the outside. But a tale of two press conferences within a week revealed that when it comes to terrorism and climate control, he cares deeply about one of those issues – and it’s not terrorism.
On Sunday, Dec. 6, after much prodding from the media and, presumably, his advisors, the president of the United States finally if reluctantly took to the airwaves to address the nation following the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.
Watching the president deliver that address was like witnessing someone undergoing a root canal. America saw Obama the Annoyed. He looked and acted like he would rather be anywhere else, doing anything else. And he seemed to spend more time criticizing those who disagree with him than focusing on the actions he is taking to destroy an imminent threat.
“We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam,” said the president, while also declaring that current anti-terrorism efforts are working just fine, thankyouverymuch.
After waiting three days to address the nation about the San Bernardino terrorist attack, Mr. Obama, by contrast, practically broke his neck over the weekend to hold a rushed press conference within minutes of a deal in Paris on climate control.
In what several commentators called a “rare Saturday press conference,” America saw Obama the Passionate. It appeared he was even working without a teleprompter.
“This agreement will mean less pollution that threatens our planet,” said the president, practically bouncing out of his seat. “Full implementation of this agreement will pave the way for more progress in stages over the years. It sends a powerful signal – a low carbon future and clean energy at a scale we have never seen before.”
In fact, most analysts – including those very much in favor of climate control rules and regs – said the Paris deal was rather meaningless because it includes no enforcement mechanisms. Imagine Mr. Obama’s excitement if the deal had some teeth!
Then again, in the president’s mind, climate control is the way to defeat terrorism. In a speech a couple of weeks ago when the climate conference kicked off in Paris – a city that had suffered its own massive terrorist attack – the president actually said, “What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it?”
Well, a greater rejection might be to focus more on destroying terrorists and less on taking away affordable energy from American families. But that’s probably nit-picking.
In his opening remarks in Paris, news reports noted how, when talking about climate control, the president ignored several warning bells alerting him that he had exceeded his time limit to rally his audience to the global threat of a changing climate. On Dec. 6, when talking to the nation about terrorism, the usually long-winded Mr. Obama gave us all of 13 minutes before rushing off to a Kennedy Center event.
President Obama’s disconnect in regard to the terrorist threat has been consistent. His kneejerk reaction to any terrorist attack is to call for more gun control, because terrorists will certainly not break the law. He has often described terrorism as an ongoing struggle with no end in sight, while at the same time declaring that ISIS has been “contained.” On Monday, the president, after visiting the Pentagon, boasted about our efforts to further contain ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
But it is as though he has to be dragged to the table to even discuss it. Even after San Bernardino, when everyone else in the world recognized the attack as unabashed terrorism, The Daily Caller website reports that “the FBI instantly believed the shooting, which left 14 dead, to be a clear act of terrorism. The White House, however, didn’t feel the same way and quickly moved in to squash the terror classification.”
Just as the Obama White House and its allies seem unable to figure out why the country is so focused on terrorism when there are rainy days or cold weather (or hot weather, depending on which argument is best on any particular day) to fret about, so too are they unable to grasp the appeal of Donald Trump and others who talk of nothing but terrorism.
It is interesting that Trump is accused of inciting people’s fears about terrorism. It can be argued that the opposite is true – people’s fears about terrorism are based on what they see for themselves, in Paris, in San Bernardino and elsewhere, and they expect their leaders or potential leaders to share their concerns and focus on the issue.
What most Americans do not need is a lecture on the nature of this war. And yet, it is not difficult to understand why they think that we do. CNN offered a profile of Trump on Monday that quoted some who believe that Trump “has simply hijacked the Republican primary to exploit a seam of angry, white, blue-collar, aging and less well-educated voters who have taken up residence in the party’s base.”
In other words, Trump’s supporters, and by association anyone else who disagrees with the president, are bigoted, uneducated idiots. We must speak very slowly so they can understand us. Meanwhile, a recent Gallup poll found that 64 percent of Americans (mostly idiots, probably) disapprove of the president’s handling of ISIS.
When the day comes that President Obama seems as concerned about the rise in terrorism as are the American people, he might find that his standing begins to improve. Not that he would be too excited about it, unless it coincided with placing some more limits on carbon emissions.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.