PRESIDENT TACKLES TERROR IN WEEKLY ADDRESS…. President Obama generated some news with his weekly address today, telling the country that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who failed at his attempt to blow up an airplane over Michigan on Christmas, did in fact have ties to al Qaeda.
“[W]e’re learning more about the suspect,” the president explained. “We know that he traveled to Yemen, a country grappling with crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies. It appears that he joined an affiliate of al Qaeda, and that this group-al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula-trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America.”
Obama proceeded to talk a bit about the ongoing difficulties we’ve seen in Yemen, and the preliminary findings of the reviews that he ordered into our terrorist watchlist system and air travel screening. And without mentioning a certain cowardly, disgraceful former vice president by name, the president also emphasized the not-so-obvious truth that this administration has already been very aggressive on counter-terrorism, and has had considerable success.
“On [Inauguration Day] I also made it very clear — our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred, and that we will do whatever it takes to defeat them and defend our country, even as we uphold the values that have always distinguished America among nations. And make no mistake, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.”
The president conceded that our success stories are often “out of sight,” but emphasized the fact that “our progress has been unmistakable. Along with our partners, we’ve disrupted terrorist financing, cut off recruiting chains, inflicted major losses on al Qaeda’s leadership, thwarted plots here in the United States, and saved countless American lives.”
Obama concluded that “the hard work of protecting our nation is never done,” and that moving forward, “let us ask the questions that need to be asked. Let us make the changes that need to be made. Let us debate the best way to protect the country we all love. That is the right and responsibility of every American and every elected official.”
And then there’s the wrong way: “Let’s never forget what has always carried us through times of trial, including those attacks eight Septembers ago. Instead of giving in to fear and cynicism, let’s renew that timeless American spirit of resolve and confidence and optimism. Instead of succumbing to partisanship and division, let’s summon the unity that this moment demands. Let’s work together, with a seriousness of purpose, to do what must be done to keep our country safe.”
You can almost hear Republicans laughing in the background. “Seriousness of purpose” is one of those concepts the GOP gave up on quite a while ago.
The weekly address is in line with the President Grown-Up characterization we talked about earlier in the week. Indeed, notice that the president didn’t go after Republicans, even subtly, in his remarks, despite having ample grounds to do so. There’s an obvious frame here — Republicans talk tough; President Obama is tough — that has so far gone unsaid.
It’s not that there was anything wrong with the weekly address; it’s that I’m still not sure whether the political world is mature enough to understand reality, or whether the president acting like an adult is going over the political world’s head.