Paul Ryan, picking up where he left off in his response to President Obama’s address to the nation on Sunday night, claims widespread opposition to Obama’s strategy against the Islamic State by citing the right-leaning mainstream media. Of course, what he doesn’t advertise is widespread opposition to the Republican strategy of abandoning American values by profiling refugees on account of their religion, selling assault weapons to terrorists, and increasing the radicalization of Muslims through repressive measures based on fear-mongering and hate.
According to Ryan, Obama doesn’t have a plan, even though Obama has repeatedly outlined and explain his plan to the American people. Obama says “this is my plan” and Ryan responds with, “the president needs a plan.” The GOP has long since become a theater of the absurd. All the same, it is instructive to see what Ryan is selling.
The headlines this morning tend to agree. Check out some of the latest reactions below:
Obama’s not-so-peppy pep talk
“President Barack Obama wanted to show he was so serious about the threat posed by ISIL that he gave a speech from the Oval Office about it—standing up. But afterwards, America knows just about as much what he’s doing and what’s going on as it did before he scrambled Sunday’s prime time schedule with the ultimate presidential prop. From the spot where George W. Bush spoke the night of Sept. 11, Richard Nixon resigned and John F. Kennedy talked civil rights and the Cuban Missile Crisis (all seated, behind where he stood), Obama looked firmly into the camera and gave America a not-so-peppy pep talk.” (Politico)
Obama tries to ease anxiety over terror attacks with Oval Office address
“Obama’s address amounted to a reassertion of his counterterrorism strategy with the public, more than a year since the Islamic State seized control of large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. The president, who in 2014 referred to the organization as a junior-varsity squad, has been accused of underestimating the group; the attacks in France and the United States have ramped up pressure on the administration to clarify its strategy.” (Chicago Tribune)
Obama seeks to calm Americans on terror threat, but speech underscores challenges
“He described [ISIS] as ‘thugs and killers, part of a cult of death.’ He urged Muslims ‘to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology.’ But he didn’t assign new resources to address that challenge. He instead offered a defense of his current strategy, suggested modest adjustments to existing programs and called on Congress to pass laws it is unlikely to approve.” (LA Times)
Obama in speech to nation vows to defeat ‘new phase’ of terrorist threat
“President Barack Obama on Sunday laid out the most sweeping defense yet of his strategy to defeat Islamic State, but he offered no U.S. policy shift to confront what he called a ‘new phase’ in the terrorist threat after a mass shooting in California.” (Reuters)
Terrorist threat has ‘evolved’ into new phase, Obama says
“Mr. Obama didn’t announce an overhaul of his counterterrorism strategy or any sweeping changes in the U.S.-led military campaign in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State.” (Wall Street Journal)
Obama: ‘Terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase’
“Concerns about the terror network’s global reach have fueled fierce criticism of the Obama administration’s year-old military campaign to drive ISIS fighters from their strongholds in Iraq and Syria.” (The Hill)
Obama: ‘This was an act of terrorism’
“But the speech – intended to reassure a nervous nation – didn’t announce an overhaul of a policy that critics have branded insufficient to take on the evolving threat.” (CNN)
Obama’s Oval Office address reflects struggle to be heard
“His decision to speak on the terrorist threat from the Oval Office, just days after the deadly attack in San Bernardino, Calif., reflects a broad concern in the White House that the American people, distracted by the overheated cacophony of the campaign season, are not listening to him. Or at least they are not hearing what he has to say.” (Washington Post)
How Obama thinks about terrorism
“At the core of Barack Obama’s terrorism speech on Sunday night lay a contradiction. He gave the address to convince an increasingly fearful nation that he takes the terrorist threat seriously. But he doesn’t, at least not in the way his political opponents do.” (The Atlantic)
Obama’s speech on terrorist threat is a plea for patience and national unity
“But in the past few weeks, the argument that Mr. Obama has moved too incrementally has come from some of his closest former counterterrorism advisers. Michael G. Vickers, who ran counterterrorism operations at the Pentagon until April this year, wrote in Politico just before Thanksgiving that ‘by any measure, our strategy in Iraq and Syria is not succeeding, or is not succeeding fast enough.'” (New York Times)
What Ryan has to offer in place of the president’s “incremental” strategy is bluster. We had, for example, the fearful Lindsey Graham’s hysterical response Sunday on Meet the Press: “Destroy the caliphate.” Well, okay, how? We have an equally empty plan from Donald Trump, who tweeted in response to Obama’s address: “Is that all there is? We need a new President – FAST!”
Trump’s other complaint was an equally ineffective stab:
Wish Obama would say ISIS, like almost everyone else, rather than ISIL.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2015
Because that will fix everything! You know, like not calling assault weapons “assault weapons.”
Ted Cruz showed us his own incisive thinking:
“It is time for a dramatic shift in both foreign and national security policy. The recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have further confirmed that radical Islamic terrorists are at war with the West.”
It is obvious the president is already well aware that we are at war with terrorists. It’s a shame Cruz chose to ignore the terrorist attack against Planned Parenthood and a much bloodier war against America by domestic terrorists that has claimed many more American lives since 9/11.
And John McCain? His response to Obama’s address was that, “We are not winning the war against ISIL, and the threat of terrorism against our homeland is real and growing.”
However, if you look at the body count, the real threat is not ISIL but domestic terrorists. The hysterical Republican response against ISIL actually helps the Islamic State out rather than harming it.
In fact, Obama’s ISIL strategy seems to be working pretty well. The Islamic State is being contained, and in some cases, pushed back. And the best evidence of success is that there hasn’t been a 9/11 on Obama’s watch.
Clever Republicans. Lots of hot air. No facts. And not a genuine idea among them.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.