Last week President Obama told the nation that we would continue to bomb the shit out of ISIS a/k/a ISIL in Iraq, only now we might also bomb the shit out of them in Syria too. While announcing this, he did not beat his chest, bite the head off a bat, or flex his biceps and grunt “yer goin’ dowwwwwwn,” so rightbloggers thought he was wimpy and socialistic.
Obama also said that ISIS didn’t really represent Islam, which really got the brethren angry, for reasons we think you can guess.
As Obama made his half-assed case for whatever we call bombing-even-more-than-we-we’re-bombing-already anymore, the same neocons who’d screwed up Iraq in the Bush years suddenly materialized to tell everybody Obama should be following their more belligerent example, at least rhetorically.
There was Dick Cheney, who emerged in Congress from a cloud of mephitic vapors to make sure all the GOP grubs stayed in formation (and was applauded by the Wall Street Journal, which announced “Dick Cheney is Still Right“); John McCain, whose wrongness on Iraq is legendary, hollered at Jay Carney that Obama should heed his advice; Lindsey Graham, who helped McCain spread WMD bullshit in 2003, raised the specter of “an American city in flames” due to ISIS; Karl Fucking Rove said Obama had “squandered the peace” that we guess was previously lurking somewhere under the rubble Rove’s boss left in Iraq, etc.
Also, there was Peggy Noonan, who after 9/11 was stalking the streets of New York looking for “Mideastern looking men” to glare at; last week she said Obama was “playing golf while the world burns” (haw haw Obummer likes golf). She said Americans had opposed a Syrian adventure in 2013 because of their “depth of disbelief in Mr. Obama’s leadership,” but today back an anti-ISIS adventure because they’re suddenly interested in the fate of persecuted Christians in the region, which insight was perhaps revealed to Noonan in a visit from the Blessed Virgin.
If we attack ISIS the right way (that is, some way Obama isn’t doing it), Noonan said, “the Mideast will continue in brutal chaos, but Islamic State, as Islamic State, will be done or at least damaged, and surely that is worth something. At the very least a message will be sent.” Western Union might be cheaper, but nowhere near as viscerally pleasing.
After Obama’s speech, Republican officeholders united behind the president and declared that politics stops at the water’s edge. Ha ha, kidding!
“Support POTUS’s overdue pledge to destroy ISIS in Iraq & Syria. Unfortunate he still tells ISIS what he won’t do,” said Rep. Peter King. “Now that our enemies have gained strength after we showed weakness, POTUS has concluded we must put our armed forces in harm’s way,” said Rep. Darrell Issa. “The president gave a poll-driven speech that has nothing in common with defeating a brutal enemy that has declared war on the United States,” said Rep. Michelle Bachmann. Etc etc etc.
Rightbloggers, ditto, only they were not as circumspect.
“Moscow is watching. Tehran is watching. Beijing is watching,” intoned Aaron MacLean into an old radio mic at the Washington Free Beacon. “And what they see is the United States showing the opposite of speed and decisiveness…America’s most dangerous foes must be very unimpressed,” much like the judges on America’s Got Talent.
“I believe the word ‘victory’ was not heard once in the speech,” sniffed National Review‘s Tim Cavanaugh.
“Better late than never,” yawned Robert Tracinski of the Federalist, “and there is much in this strategy that is correct, ifthe administration is actually willing to face up to the reality of what its strategy will require.” (Tracinski naturally followed this with “Which we have very good reason to doubt.”)
“It also sounds like a plan the president has arrived at reluctantly, and hopes to carry it out with the bare minimum of force,” scoffed K.T. McFarland at Fox News, “thus lessening his political risk but putting our forces at considerable risk.” Political risk? He’s running for a third term? No wonder they call him a tyrant!
We note for perspective that back in 2008, McFarland was telling people “U.S. forces have seen a turnaround in Iraq. There is significant improvement in almost every aspect of the war,” and claiming Iraq “will soon be able to stand on its own feet, and American forces can finally come home.” This past January, she said, “we realize too late that President Bush shouldn’t have taken us into Iraq, and President Obama shouldn’t have taken us out.” McFarland is Fox News’s national security analyst.
Speaking of old times, at the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger rubbed his hands with glee: Back in Bush days, Henninger spun as hard as he could for the home team: In 2004, he called citizens to aid the war effort by contributing to a public-private project rehabbing Iraq TV stations “so that average Iraqis have better televised information than the propaganda they get from the notorious Al Jazeera.” Stateside audiences had other information options, alas, and Henninger was mortified that many of them were attending sources like Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 (“Moore’s on-camera characters are invariably lower middle class and inarticulate.”) By 2005, faith was starting to falter, and Henninger complained that then-Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawai “knows that images and tales of sudden death will suppress calmer, constructive portrayals of Baghdad’s 5 million people restoring their lives to normalcy.” People just weren’t believing hard enough, and the beautiful dream of endless occupation died.
The ISIS speech gave Henninger a chance to settle the score. He repeated old stories about Obama’s hubris — thought he could write better speeches than his speechwriters, hmmph! He lamented Obama’s “now-embarrassing statements” and “gaffes,” and wondered, “Can a humbling experience of such startling proportions have sunk in?” If it had, Henninger said, then Obama would be “willing to confront the political correctness that has undermined the U.S.’s battle against terror. No more sophistry about whether a Benghazi qualifies as terrorism…closing Gitmo goes on the backburner…”
But no — now it was Henninger’s turn to withhold faith! “It’s even money at best,” he sighed, “that [Obama] or the Left will stay the course if the going gets tough beyond Iraq’s borders.” Now America would just have to wait until its cities were aflame, or until people’s attentions wandered and it became time for Henninger to grumble over one of his other pet peeves, like atheists and comedians who say bad words.
The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin didn’t like Obama’s reference to America’s “steady, relentless effort,” from which she “got the feeling it will also be very, very slow so that we won’t be able to assess its success, at least not on his watch,” as opposed to the Iraq cakewalk of 2003-20infinity. Neither did Rubin like Obama “ending on an incongruous note about domestic policy,” because “Obama seemed to suggest that this is what really matters — getting back to his agenda at home.” C’mon, between that jobs/justice crap and blowing up human beings, it’s no contest!
We give Some Guy at RedState credit for admitting he was against war with ISIS because Obama is president. “War is not the answer — particularly if Barack Obama is commander in chief,” said Some Guy. “I’m totally against this war. Not because ISIS isn’t as sick as a town with an ebola outbreak. I simply see our armed forces as having no path to victory under the failed and unconcerned leadership of President Barack Obama.”
Some Guy cited as his intellectual authority former Bush speechwriter (and inventor of the phrase “axis of evil”) David Frum, who though “famous for his neocon bellicosity” didn’t like Obama’s speech, either, which proved it was bad, since what possible other reason would Frum have to say so? (“The question before the nation is, What is the benefit of this war to America and to Americans?” Frum asked, apparently with a straight face.)
At the National Review, Jim Geraghty expressed “The Sneaking Suspicion That Obama Doesn’t Really Support His Own Policies,” and invented an interior monologue for the president: “I don’t want to do this. I’m supposed to be the peacemaker president…You would think that in exchange for being consulted early and often, our allies would be more eager to help…I can’t shake the feeling ISIS loves the idea of us coming after them… We’re trying to bomb an army, in the kind of ‘whack-a-mole’ policies I used to criticize…”
Based on this damning evidence, Geraghty predicted that “once it starts to go wrong…President Obama will start having doubts…Then Obama will want to undo this policy as quickly as he can.” Then, who knows, maybe he’ll do something else illegal and tyrannical, only this time the people will rise up. You can’t go wrong with Choose-Your-Own-Adventure rightblogging, particularly when you write all the endings.
What seemed to animate rightbloggers the most, though, was Obama’s comment that ISIS was not representative of most Muslims: Though ISIL, as he prefers to call it, “calls itself the ‘Islamic State,’ ” said Obama, “ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents. And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim.”
Not Islamic! Why, he might as well have said that the Ku Klux Klan wasn’t Christian!
“Of course ISIL is Islamic,” snarled Rod Dreher. “Why does he even say such stupid, obviously untrue things? They are a particularly fierce, vicious Islamic sect, but what good does it do to pretend that they aren’t Muslim…”
“First, he should have said that ISIL is not Islamic, not Islamist,” said The American Interest‘s Adam Garfinkle, straightening his pocket protector, “since, as he put it, no religion condones the killing of innocents.” Garfinkle added that only “in some oxygen-deprived airy abstract zone of theology, the president is right: Islam, and Islamic law strictly understood, does not condone the killing of innocents in war.” Here in the real world of small-circ rightwing magazines, Obama was just being oversensitive about the “bogeyman of Islamophobia,” but it’s all bullshit because “there are lots of examples of jihadis killing innocents in droves.”
Garfinkle eventually came around to admitting, perhaps at the insistence of an editor, that Christians have done some massacres too. “Does that make Christianity not a religion of peace? Not necessarily,” he phumphered: “What it shows is that statements of such platitudinous generality are meaningless except as speechwriter offerings on the altar of political correctness.” (I.e.: OK, forget what I said about the Muslims, here’s 3,154 more words on why Obama sucks.)
In a column called “It’s Not a Misnomer — The Islamic State has everything to do with Islam,” National Review‘s leading impeachment and torture enthusiast, Andrew C. McCarthy, told readers that “what we presume to call ‘radical Islam’… is not very radical among the world’s Muslims. There are pacific constructions of Islam, too, but it is silly not to acknowledge that Islamic supremacism is a mainstream interpretation of Islam…Indeed, when you read what the scriptures say, there is a good argument that the pacific constructions are the ones that are radical revisionism.”
So, that nice Yemeni couple down the street? They’re actually part of a rare, radical sect of Muslims — the other Muslims, the ones you don’t personally know? They all want to kill you.
“Sorry Mr. President, ISIS Is 100 Percent Islamic,” said Daniel Pipes, a Muslim-hater from way back (he even gets mad when they win beauty pageants). He denounced Obama’s “preposterous claim” as well as similar namby-pamby religion-of-peace rhetoric from Bush and Clinton, and quoted Bernard Lewis approvingly, “it is surely presumptuous for those who are not Muslims to say what is orthodox and what is heretical in Islam,” heroically restraining himself from adding “or Daniel Pipes” in brackets after “those who are not Muslims.” Then Pipes added, “At least it’s better than the formulation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (known as CAIR) which has the nerve to call the Islamic State ‘anti-Islamic.’ ” Yeah, because what would they know about it?
“As for its not being Islamic, that’s at best unclear, if not just clearly wrong,” said Jonah Goldberg. “And the fact that the majority of its victims are Muslim is irrelevant. Lenin and Stalin killed thousands of Communists and socialists; that doesn’t mean Lenin and Stalin weren’t Communists and socialists. If such terrorists who kill Muslims aren’t Muslims, why do we give them Korans when we imprison them?” Similarly, when a condemned mobster is Catholic, we send a priest to visit him, which means the Cosa Nostra is Catholic — wait, that didn’t come out right, fart.
Finally, Goldberg resorted to this: “Instead of Americans trying to persuade Muslims of the world that terrorism is un-Islamic, why shouldn’t Muslims be working harder to convince us?” Believe it or not, this prove-yourselves-innocent schtick had other adherents: After the latest ISIS beheading and the customary Obama insults, for example, John Hayward of Breitbart.com groused, “this would be an excellent time for moderate Islam to rise up and speak out against ISIS and Islamic fascism in one mighty voice, in the name of a man who did so much to help Muslims during his relief work around the world.” Hullo, we don’t hear you — guess you’re all in on it!
Meantime, several of the brethren hauled out the story of a nut, Ali Muhammad Brown, who recently killed four strangers at random in Seattle and New Jersey, but said afterwards he’d done it to avenge the people of the Middle East against America.
“The usual suspects who decry hate crimes and gun violence haven’t uttered a peep,” wrote volume outrage merchant Michelle Malkin. “Why? Like O.J.’s glove: If the narrative don’t fit, you must acquit.” (Pause to let that sink in.) “The admitted killer will be cast as just another ‘lone wolf’ whose familiar grievances and bloodthirsty Islamic invocations mean nothing,” Malkin raved. “I say: Enough with the whitewashing.”
According to Malkin’s unwhitewashed account, Brown (referred to throughout Malkin’s column as “Mohammed Brown”) was clearly engaged in an “Islamic terror spree,” and would soon be joined in jihad by Muslim hordes across America: “Seattle’s left-wing mayor, Ed Murray,” said most American Muslims were peaceable, but Malkin countered, whattaya expect, “Seattle alone has been a long-festering hotbed of anti-American, anti-Semitic jihadism.” Meanwhile, “homegrown Muslim haters” are “living and working among us, embedded in local mosques and inside our military,” and will go apeshit on us while we’re “making Kumbaya excuses, sitting on the sidelines and golfing” — haw haw, like that Obummer who likes golf and is also a Muslim!
Other rightbloggers focused on one of Brown’s victims, Brendan Tevlin, a good-looking young white man, sometimes placing his picture next to that of the much darker Brown. “Brendan Tevlin was the exemplar of what American parents hope their children become,” wrote Katie Coyne at Rightly Wired. “As such, he was also a symbol of what Muslim jihadists hope to exterminate.”
“Radio Host Says the National Media Aren’t Telling You About This Shocking Alleged Revenge Killing: ‘Domestic Terrorism Is Already Here,’ ” headlined The Daily Blaze. “‘Domestic Terrorism,'” echoed Fox Nation and Fox News Insider. “Four Men in Two Cities Killed in Acts of Islamic Jihad,” roared the Tea Party News Network; “Media, Obama, and Holder Silent.” “JIHAD IN AMERICA! – WHERE’S THE MARCH FOR BRENDAN TEVLIN?” cried Angry White Dude, who also referenced “Al Not-so-Sharp, Eric ‘My People’ Holder, Rainbow Jackson, the New Black Panthers, CAIR, and Hussein Obama.”
“Why isn’t there more reporting about Americans killed by a suspected jihadist?” asked Malkin’s alternative-universe Twitter clone, Twitchy. “JIHADIST SERIAL KILLER? HO HUM!” said John Hinderaker at Power Line. “…if you didn’t know better, you might think that national news outlets are leery of linking the words ‘serial killer’ and ‘devout Muslim.'”
Meanwhile, Charles Severance, a white man who had run for mayor of Alexandria, Virginia, and for Congress on a tax-cutting, small-government platform, was indicted last week for murdering three local people, also apparently at random. Yet his story didn’t get the same kind of coverage, for some reason. Ha, OK, you caught on, the reason is obvious: Rightbloggers have a vested interest in showing America overwhelmed within and without by dusky Mohammedans under the mismanagement of Kenya-born Hussein Obama. That this is a paranoid fantasy, that ISIS isn’t an immediate threat, and that the millions of Muslims who live in the U.S. aren’t waiting for some sort of Islamic (or Islamicist) bat-signal to attack the rest of us means nothing at all; what’s important is that citizens be made to feel endangered, so they’ll run to the arms of the abusive-father party. What the hell, it worked in 2003; it’s certainly worth another try.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 14, 2014