In the aftermath of the murder of James Foley by the international terrorist group the Islamic State, much has been made of the “bad optics” surrounding President Obama’s rush to the golf course after his comments on the videotaped beheading of the American journalist. Even The New York Times chimed in with a story addressing “The Terrorist Horror, Then Golf ” resulting in an analysis that eviscerates the president for his perceived indifference.
The tone of that article, and so many others, seem to reflect genuine surprise at what appears to be ice water in the president’s veins. For some of us, however, Mr. Obama’s indifference to the plight of individuals other than himself has been apparent for quite some time.
His reaction to the disaster of Obamacare, the slaughter at Benghazi and the economy has been to mislead and deflect. While compassion is rife in his speechifying, his application of that emotion to the suffering of real people, often at the hands of his own policies, is piecemeal if not absent.
For supporters of Mr. Obama, one argument has been that it doesn’t matter how and if the president vacations; what matters is how he responds to the Islamic State, also known as the ISIS or ISIL. After Mr. Foley’s murder, we’ve received a glimpse of just that, via Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.:
Politico reported, “[T]he attorney general was asked about Foley. ‘The Justice Department is actively pursuing justice in this case. We have an open criminal investigation,’ Holder said, adding later that the department will ‘vigorously’ proceed with the probe.”
That’s right, a criminal prosecution. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Mr. Obama declared to the United Nations in 2011 that the “tide of war is receding,” and he’s going to continue to pretend that’s the case. (You see, if he treats acts of war as though they’re individual crimes, voila, no more war.)
Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, the narrative is more important than the truth, and that fantasy now requires him to ignore the reality of the world. Cases in point: ignoring the genocide in Syria; blaming Benghazi on a YouTube video and sending the FBI; declaring the Islamic State “junior varsity” after it took Fallujah, Iraq; responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with a social-media hashtag campaign of #UnitedforUkraine.
No matter world events, you see, the Obama administration has an existential interest in maintaining the fiction that the world is exactly as Mr. Obama predicted it would be. He would bring light and unicorns, and would (and did, they proclaim) restrain the United States from the hubristic adventures causing all the world’s problems.
What to do, however, when the world doesn’t cooperate? The only way to maintain the lie is to change the vocabulary; ergo, when an American gets his head chopped off by a terrorist nation — a declaration of war — the United States instead opens up a “criminal investigation.” Because it can never, ever be about war waged against the United States.
Why? Because it puts the lie to the liberal narrative: Mr. Obama stopped war, saved the world, rolled back the tide of evil and nihilistic violence. Because America has been neutered. And because of unicorns.
No matter what, Mr. Obama will continue to govern his pretend world from the real golf course.
While Mr. Obama’s comments from Martha’s Vineyard about the Foley murder frustrated most analysts owing to its void of strategy or details, the State Department’s Marie Harf illustrated her understanding of what appears to be an Obama Isolationism Doctrine.
According to RealClearPolitics, a reporter asked about strategy in the aftermath of Mr. Foley’s murder, to which Ms. Harf responded, “This is not about ISIL versus the United States . This is not about what the United States is or isn’t doing we are very focused, when we outline goals, on attacking their targets when they threaten those goals holding people accountable when they hurt our people. That’s something we’re very focused on.”
In other words, ignore the monster and kill its fleas. Individual criminal prosecutions. Creation of Twitter hashtags. Speeches.
Mr. Obama’s secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, was much more verbose. “ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, sophistication of strategic and practical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded, oh this is beyond anything that we’ve seen, so we must prepare for everything,” according to RealClearPolitics.