In politics, the rule is, “when in trouble make some rubble.” Although the president has been hesitant about taking strong, decisive action in the Middle East, the sickening killing of journalist James Foley is a good reason to take a stand. The president can — and should — seize the moment; but this moment, as with all moments these days, is fleeting. Soon, the media and the public’s attention will be focused on new headlines. There is nothing wrong with a president capitalizing on heated public emotions to further his policy objectives.
President Obama can do the right thing and simultaneously help his sagging ratings. You want to see some bipartisanship in Washington? Unleash hell on those connected to Foley’s killing. It doesn’t have to be just about vengeance. It’s more about showing the world what is in store for the United States’ enemies. We must diminish the presence of the Islamic State and its collaborators. And right now, the president has carte blanche to do so. In this case, vicious payback is good policy.
The president actually made a connection with viewers during his statement yesterday from Martha’s Vineyard. Everyone needs to see it, so watch it here. He appeared authentic and tough, and I hope he can maintain the steely presence he demonstrated yesterday. But will this be another good personal presentation by Obama that remains disconnected from any action or policy?
Maureen Dowd said it best in her scathing piece in Tuesday’s New York Times, “Alone again, naturally,” where she asked why the president doesn’t “do something bold and thrilling,” “get his hands dirty” and “talk to someone besides Valerie Jarrett.” Now is the time. Maybe properly handling this crisis and initiating a policy to deal with the Islamic State could serve as the preface for him to begin robust engagement with opinion leaders outside the White House — including Republicans — and start to emerge from the paralysis that has beset this administration.
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