Kish and I watched President Obama’s speech about our response to the depravations of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria last night. I think we have to do something about those vicious Islamic terrorists, so I am glad the President has decided to take action. As for his strategy — well, if it doesn’t work, we can try something else. The main takeaway is that we’re going to act, once again, in an effort to lead the world to a better place.
The President struck a jarring note at the end of the speech, when he invoked both the 9/11 attack and the economic downturn of 2008 and argued that the United States “is better positioned today to seize the future than any other nation on Earth.” He added:
“Our technology companies and universities are unmatched. Our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving. Energy independence is closer than it’s been in decades. For all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history. Despite all the divisions and discord within our democracy, I see the grit and determination and common goodness of the American people every single day, and that makes me more confident than ever about our country’s future.”
This snippet of happy-talk was dubious — Our universities are great when they are gouging students with outrageous tuitions and producing debt-crippled graduates? Our auto industries are thriving when GM produces defective cars while living on federal support? — and obviously has nothing to do with ISIS or terrorism. It came across as unseemly politicking as a mid-term election approaches and thereby detracted from the rest of the speech. Perhaps the President doesn’t realize it, but when he is addressing national security and describing our strategy to defeat another bloody terrorist group and then veers into campaign mode, he presents himself as focused on internal politics and less than serious about the external mission he is announcing. It’s not a positive juxtaposition.
Today marks another anniversary of 9/11 and, as a result of the President’s speech last night, we will open another front in the long and difficult struggle against terrorism. The memories of that black day 13 years ago remain raw and painful. Due respect for 9/11 requires that our leaders continue to focus on our bipartisan, national goal of keeping our country safe from another attack. When 9/11 is invoked, electioneering should not follow.