LOS ANGELES, April 23, 2013 — If ever a question deserved careful treatment, this is it: Does President Obama bear any blame for Boston?
Conservative critics who blame him for everything and liberal worshippers who hold him accountable for nothing both need to take giant steps backward. The stakes are too high for emotion to trump reason.
Start by dismissing conspiracy theories.
Both FDR and George W. Bush were accused of deliberately allowing America to be attacked as a justification to wage war. This charge amounts to treason, and without more than a theory to back it up, it does not deserve even a minute of consideration. No sane President wants war. Obama had no advance knowledge of the attacks; he grieves for the victims.
For eight years, Bush was blamed by liberals for everything from stealing an election to running America like an imperial dictator. The dictator theory collapsed when he voluntarily left office at the end of his second term. The constant sniping at him was not conducive to public civility or good government, and conservatives should remember that tit-for-tat, eye-for-an-eye politics will eventually produce a world of blind politicians. Blaming Obama for everything is bad for everyone, and blame should not be doled out capriciously.
The people responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings were the people who did it. Two Chechen, radicalized Muslim brothers did it. It could turn out that they were funded and aided by a larger network, but for now, we only know with certainty that Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev did it. They did it with malicious intent, and now it appears they did it because of radical Islam.
Whether a Republican or Democrat is in the White House, foreign policy failures are bad for business and bad for the legacy. Obama took an oath to protect and defend America as Commander-in-Chief. Whatever we think of his job performance, we have no reason to doubt his intentions. At the least, we have no reason to doubt he wants his presidency to be successful and well-regarded in the history books.
If it is wrong to blame Obama for wanting or causing the Boston bombing, is it wrong even to ask whether he could and should have done anything to reduce the odds that an event like that would occur? Some people argue that questioning Obama amounts to politicizing the bombings to score cheap political points. The problem with that position is that it assumes not only is Obama unblameable for anything, but he has no responsibility for anything. It’s a valid position only if Obama is a purely ornamental figurehead on the ship of state.
Obama has enormous power and vast influence. He therefore has enormous responsibility, both for what he does and what he doesn’t do. The buck stops at his desk.
There are no political points to score here. Obama won reelection and will not be impeached (accusations are not evidence). His poll numbers could drop below freezing and he will still be the world’s most powerful man. Election 2014 will not hinge on Boston, and Obama will either get his majority back or continue to use Republicans as a foil. Republicans should want no part of an “attack the President” strategy in an election they have a good chance of winning anyway. Attacks would backfire as they did against Bill Clinton in 1998.
This is only about policy. Policies should be judged on one sole criterion: Do they work?
Obama began his presidency explicitly stating that he was going to completely reverse the Bush foreign policy approach. Bush had an interventionist conservative vision, while Obama represented a left-wing desire to disengage from foreign wars. Obama was going to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, close Guantanamo, stop renditions, pay scrupulous heed to the War Powers Act, end the “war on terror.” He was going to be the anti-Bush.
As he reminds us, he won the election and has every right to govern as he pleases. We as citizens have the right to assess the results.
After 9/11, there was not a single successful attack on American soil connected in any way to radical Islam. While soldiers died in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, American civilians were kept safe. For the last seven years and four months of the Bush presidency, Americans were kept safe at home and abroad.
Obama has been in office for four years and three months. There have been two successful terrorist attacks on American soil with connections to radical Islam. Obama escaped media scrutiny by simply refusing to label them honestly. The Fort Hood shooting was described as “workplace violence.” The suriving Boston Marathon bomber will be treated as a common criminal, with a taxpayer funded civilian trial instead of a military tribunal.
Jim Carrey’s “Liar Liar” character describes a blue pen as red, but that does not make it so. One can debate the level of involvement of radical Islam in both instances, but not its existence. To pretend that Islam is entirely incidental to these attacks has profound and dangerous policy implications.
Then there are the “near misses,” where the Obama administration completely failed but were bailed out by private citizens. This includes the Shoe Bomber and the Christmas Day Underwear Bomber. Those incidents also had Islamist connections.
Some feel Bush was weaker on terrorism than Obama because 9/11 was far worse. The “quality over quantity” argument is a poor one; Pearl Harbor was just as bad, and few people blame FDR for it. He is judged by his reaction, which was swift, unequivocal, and resolute. FDR responded to an act of war by taking the war to the enemy with the intent to destroy it; that’s what Bush did after 9/11. FDR, like Bush, saw the world change and acted to prevent a repeat occurrence.
By refusing to see the role of radical Islam in terrorist attacks and treating them as police matters, we ignore the disease and look only at its symptoms. This emboldens America’s enemies. Obama says that justice will be meted out, but if this is a criminal matter, it will only be meted out to the people who directly engage in an attack and ignore those who aid and encourage them. For terrorists, that is an empty threat.
Obama got Osama bin Laden (using Bush-Cheney interrogation techniques that Obama still disavows) and has gone after al-Qaeda, but he sees this as a war on an organization that is somehow distinct, separate, and unrelated to radical Islam. In other words, he sees this as action against a criminal organization, not the result of a clash of ideas. Thus he does not act where he does not see al-Qaeda, even though radical Islam and Jihad stand there before him as elephants in the room. And so he allowed four Americans to die in Benghazi. The killers were motivated by radical Islam.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked “what difference at this point does it make” as to why Americans were murdered in Benghazi. That same ill-fated reasoning is being asked concerning the Boston Marathon bombers.
The why absolutely matters. If we don’t know why things happen, we have to treat each event as unique. If you don’t know why apples fall, you have to treat the fall of each and every apple as a unique event, requiring its own unique explanation. Failure to honestly label the threat and specifically defend against it means we run the risk of increased terrorist attacks on our soil, because we refuse to believe that there’s any fundamental cause that links them.
Bush understood this. Obama does not. He’s not stupid, but he is a doctrinaire leftist ideologue who deeply believes his way of doing things will make America stronger, safer, and more globally liked and respected.
Obama is not evil, but he is completely wrong. The evidence is there, and the results are there for all to see.
Obama did not cause the terrorists to commit their evil acts. He did not create their ideology. He just refused to see why they did it and continue to do it, he insists on looking at it in terms of politics, not the violent passions that animate jihadists to pursue Jihad.
When Iraq was sinking in 2006, Bush changed course, brought in General David Petraeus, and turned things around. He put good policy above his own ego. Obama now needs to do the same. He needs to admit his handling of terrorism issues is wrong, and take steps to fix it.
If he fails to do that, he jeopardizes us all. For that, he deserves blame.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS. Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter
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