The president is singularly inept when it comes to promoting domestic or international security and providing a sense of calm and command. If the central responsibility of government is protecting the country from enemies abroad and providing law and order at home, this president is failing miserably.
President Obama denies that the North Korean cyberattack on Sony Pictures and threats of physical terror are an “act of war.” It was cyber-vandalism, he says, as if this were a prank by mischievous teens.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had it right on CNN Sunday when he explained, “When you destroy economies, when you are able to impose censorship on the world, and especially the United States of America, it’s more than vandalism. It’s a new form of warfare that we’re involved in. And we need to react, and react vigorously, including reimposing sanctions that were lifted under the Bush administration, including other actions that will squeeze them more economically.”
In the wake of the slayings of two police officers, Obama may also find himself on defense, as will the New York mayor, Al Sharpton and perhaps Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) – none of whom condoned or provoked violence but who, many law-abiding citizens will claim, promoted disrespect for the police and were insufficiently sober with regard to the facts of the Michael Brown case. (Paul sitting down with Sharpton, whom many Republicans consider to be a charlatan and who is remembered for his role in the Crown Heights riots, is galling for Republicans, who remain big proponents of law and order.)
And in Obama’s unilateral grant of deferred deportation and his declaration that he was ending the Cuba embargo, Obama created his own legal mayhem and raised doubts about his commitment to the rule of law. Conservatives, and perhaps others, see him utterly unconcerned with constitutional and historical precedent. Making matters even worse, the issue of cop killings and Cuba intersected coincidentally. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wrote to the president about Cuba harboring JoAnne Chesimard, who killed a New Jersey police officer before fleeing to Cuba: “Cuba’s provision of safe harbor to Chesimard by providing political asylum to a convicted cop killer, and her ability to elude justice, is an affront to every resident of our state, our country, and in particular, the men and women of the New Jersey State Police, who have tirelessly tried to bring this killer back to justice. I urge you to demand the immediate return of Chesimard before any further consideration of restoration of diplomatic relations with the Cuban Government.” He added, “I ask you to use this opportunity to engage with the Cuban government to get this resolved, and I am very disappointed that returning a convicted killer of a police officer was not already demanded and accomplished in the context of the steps you announced regarding this dictatorship.”
To many voters Obama is more interested in catering to select constituencies in the Democratic base than attending to the personal and national security of Americans. Watch Republicans go after the president, deservedly so in our book, for his less-than-serious devotion to Americans’ sense of security. The savvier Republicans will relate this back to a broader agenda that encompasses the economy, health care and energy. Who is looking out for the needs of ordinary, law-abiding and working- and middle-class Americans? The president, in downplaying the Sony cyberattack, joining in the wave of anti-police criticism and extending an olive branch to the Cuban dictators who harbor fugitives, sure does not seem like that leader.
The president likes to think he “ends” wars, but in fact he denies they exist. Iran has been at war with the United States for 35 years, killing our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with improvised explosive devices, plotting an assassination on U.S. soil and sponsoring state terror. North Korea defies international agreements, fires missiles, starves its people and now engages in economic terrorism, and the president says he will respond “proportionately” (What, shut down the next North Korean blockbuster premiere?) to what is only the most recent form of aggression. Even with the Islamic State, Obama responds to the beheadings of Americans, invasions of allies and mass atrocities with a half-hearted approach to “degrading” the terrorists – and, I suppose if he gets to it, destroying them. (At the current rate he is going, it will take years and years to hobble the terrorists.) Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine, a country to which the United States promised to provide security (in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nukes), and Obama does not seem to recognize that this is not only an aggressive war against Ukraine but also a frontal attack on international law.
He is so obviously more focused on pleasing discrete interest groups and sticking it to the Republicans that he seems not to have the time, energy or inclination to defend robustly the entire country and to call out terrorists and aggressive powers that, even if we are not at war with them, are most certainly at war with us.
Look for 2016 to be an election about safety and security in all its manifestations.