Reaction to President Obama’s kitchen sink address – expanded political commentary

** Expanded from the original article at Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner **
President Obama during 1 of 115 rounds of golf

Like all Americans, our concerns over the threat of the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in Iraq is a growing sense of caution and need for action. Caution in providing a response strong enough to remove this threat to our nation without provoking the creation of yet another terrorist fanatical organization to take its place once gone. Action to decisively remind the world that America carries a big stick and will use it if provoked. This is what was hoped for in the prime-time address to the nation by President Obama on September 10, 2014.

In less than 15 minutes, the world audience was instead treated to the kitchen sink approach to politics. A mix of soft and hard statements, with irrelevant gibbering tossed in for an effect akin to the feeling one might have looking at a pizza that was just picked up off the ground. The pizza visibly covered in stray bits of pebbles and dirt, minute pieces of what might have been organic matter, and odd bits that just don’t make sense. The totality leaving the viewer with a feeling of loss for what previously was available and now gone.

President Obama waxed and waned on this national appearance, hop scotching from the threat of ISIS and terrorism, to the US economy, to Ebola, to the Ukraine, and back to the Middle East. It is a task that an orator of less skill could not pull off. Even so, the impression of the greatness of America, repeated over and over in the speech, took on a resemblance to that dirt covered pizza.

What may have made this even worse, beyond the all encompassing nature of the speech, where the moments that just instantly rang a bell of wrong answer. Moments like the following selected quotes:

“Tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL…”

Instantly one has to think about the current status of the US and the rest of the world. In that thought, try to picture any nation that is on friendlier or deeper terms with America than it was in 2009. England has been distanced. Israel has been, at times, thrown to the wolves. Russia is all but reinstating the Cold War. North Korea and Iran have both seen a resurgence of vitriol against America. Perhaps one could argue that Canada is still on as good terms as in the past, until the chilling effect of the blockage of the Keystone Pipeline is remembered.

“As Commander-and-Chief my highest priority is the security of the American people…”

Yet, not even a year ago, 5 of the most dangerous detainees in Guantanamo Bay were traded off for what has been pretty definitively confirmed to be a traitor. A deal hidden from a Congress that by law needed to be informed prior to action. A deal that resulted in the admission that some or all those involved will likely become threats to the American people again.

“…while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan where our combat mission will end later this year…”

Which is exactly what some believe is the reason why ISIS exists today. It is also the key reason why so much of Iraq has been captured by ISIS forces just in this summer alone. Afghanistan for its part has already begun to take on the early stages of the downfall seen in Iraq.

“…and Syria’s civil war…”

Where the US, under the guidance of President Obama’s Middle East strategy, has given weapons and aide to various groups fighting Syria’s government. Those groups include Al Qaeda and ISIS. Both of which have used the supplies and arms to fuel their efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“And in acts of barbarism they took the lives of two American journalists. Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.

Barbaric indeed. Heinous acts that were unprovoked and disgusting. But it was President Obama himself, after denouncing the first of these atrocities, who went off and immediately hit the golf course after speaking to the press. An act many feel is no less disgusting.

“…if left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region…”

Is President Obama channeling President Bush? Is that not part of the reason for the invasion of Iraq? The threat of WMD’s. A stance that Senator Obama attacked heartily on the campaign trail, and boldly denounced the surge strategy enacted to contain and remove the threat of Al Qaeda at the time. So is it being said that this was the right strategy all along? That America must repeat this process that was dismantled by President Obama in the first place?

“…and some American have joined them [ISIS]…”

Is this the justification for the Justice Department memo authorizing the killing of Americans without trial via drone bomb attacks? Is there a known threat to the nation from American that have joined ISIS? Is anything being done to protect citizens domestically? What proof is there that Americans have joined ISIS?

“…since then we have conducted over 150 successful airstrikes in Iraq…”

No war has ever been won solely by bombing the enemy. Ever. Troops have always been required. Otherwise the air strikes that have been on-going since 2009 in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq would have already resolved the problems years ago. Airstrikes are not an answer by themselves, as impressive as 150 may sound.

“This is a core principle of my presidency. If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

Except if you go to Iran. Or North Korea. Or Pakistan. Egypt and Libya are touch and go. Russia and China might indirectly help without serious comment from us too. But otherwise no safe haven. Unless you are in Africa where America generally doesn’t pay attention. This is a core principle of the Obama international policy.

“Fourth, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians…”

Except if they are in the Sudan. Darfur, which was classified as a genocide by the UN when President Obama was still a Senator. Other parts of the world that have similar humanitarian needs may well be overlooked as well, as they are currently.

“This is American leadership at its best.”

No it is not. World War II was American leadership at its best. The creation of the internet and modern technology is American leadership examples. The aid of individual Americans to Haiti and Indonesia after natural disasters is American leadership. The international policy of the Obama Administration does not compare, if we are honest.

“I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL…”

No, you don’t. Many in Congress have stated they believe an extended conflict requires authorization directly from Congress. Even stalwart Democrat politicians like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are wavering on the authority the Executive Branch has in this situation.

U.S. Predator drone

“This strategy of taking out terrorist who threaten while supporting partners on the front lines is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

Yet the terrorist threats in Yemen and Somalia are as vigorous and active as they have been for years. In neither example have Al Qaeda or any splinter terrorist group been defeated or ousted. The success that is touted is not apparent in the examples used.

“Next week marks 6 years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression…”

What in the world does this have to do with ISIS and terrorism? Is President Obama saying that the sub-prime housing bubble was a terrorist plot? Even worse is the fact that the economy has yet to recover. More people are out of work and not counted as unemployed than almost at the peak of the recession. Growth of GDP remains underwhelming. The Obama Stimulus, Cash for Clunkers, and the takeover of the auto industry all failed to create long-term jobs. The situation is so bad that no Democrat has used the word stimulus in 4 years, and even the President has made a joke out of the phrase “shovel-ready jobs”.

It at this point that the speech devolves into a kitchen sink with everything thrown in for good measure. Any topic in the headlines is used. All of it phrased as if there is a silver-lining hiding just behind a cloud that is about to pass. Every word is perfect for winning an election, that President Obama will never again be running in.

Every word from this point on has nothing to do with ISIS or the threat terrorism poses to America. With each new unrelated topic, the speech weakens the resolve it hastily insisted existed and demeans the entire process to little more than a political attempt to curry favor in the November elections. It is a display of Obama the campaigner-n-chief, and implies a lack of fortitude to complete the tasks the majority of the speech was predicated on.

Every word from this point on has nothing to do with ISIS or the threat terrorism poses to America. With each new unrelated topic, the speech weakens the resolve it hastily insisted existed and demeans the entire process to little more than a political attempt to curry favor in the November elections. It is a display of Obama the campaigner-n-chief, and implies a lack of fortitude to complete the tasks the majority of the speech was predicated on.

To summarize the reaction to this national address you could say it was just more of the same. Some saber rattling, some smoke and mirror distractions, a vague plan that sounds incredibly ineffective if thought about for a few moments. Hardly a speech to rebound from the lack of a plan announced just a week ago. Definitely not a speech to make terrorists around the world any more concerned than they were even a day ago.

President Obama has set the stage. America has a big stick… and some job growth, and nice schools, and Apple just came out with smart watches, and coal power is still bad, and so is Russia, and so is that Ebola thing. But America has a big stick, and we may or may not actually use it. So ISIS better be scared.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

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