The general consensus is that President Obama’s speech on ISIS did little to benefit the American people. He failed to enunciate any changes in policy, he threatened Americans’ gun rights, and he didn’t even sound like he recognized the alarming nature of the threat.
But there are two Americans he may have helped on Sunday night: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
What the president’s message lacked was dynamism of any kind. It couldn’t be found in his tepid prescriptions for solving the ISIS problem nor in his unemotional, uninspiring delivery. Watching Obama, many voters will recognize the absence of these traits. And some will realize that dynamism, so necessary to dealing with crises and threats, is what Trump and Cruz possess in abundance.
Just look at the dry platitudes Obama offered up, deflating the country with vows to “continue” existing policies that already aren’t working.
- “Our military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary.”
- “We will continue to provide training and equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground so that we take away their safe havens.”
- “We’re working with friends and allies to stop ISIL’s operation.”
- “With American leadership, the international community has begun to establish a process — and timeline — to pursue ceasefires and a political resolution to the Syrian war.”
Obama then turned to gun control as a measure sure to help and sternly warned America to “reject discrimination.”
Presumably, then, Americans are supposed to report suspicious behavior, but not focus on the population most likely to commit it.
Voters know that neither Trump nor Cruz will be having any of this political correctness. The initial focus of either of these two would be securing the homeland, not preserving the “safe space” of Muslims or anyone else.
Both have demonstrated the fire in their personalities that Obama lacks and that they surely would apply to the response to ISIS. Cruz has shown it on the campaign trail and on the Senate floor, where he regularly rocked the Senate’s staid status quo. Trump has been projecting force and even ruthlessness — “You’re fired” — to the public for decades now.
Obama counseled against fear during his remarks, but that’s a pipe dream. When America is attacked, even the bravest will have fear. And when there is fear in the land, people will turn to a “strong hand” to rescue them and recoil from Obama’s brand of milquetoast.
After watching Obama, people will think of someone like Cruz, and perhaps even more likely, Trump.
Because, try to imagine either the president or any of the Democratic or Republican candidates putting a gun to the head of an ISIS terrorist and pulling the trigger. Who might do it?
There is only one.
This piece also appears on PoliZette.