What, Obama worry?
By MICHAEL GOODWIN
Last Updated: 3:43 AM, June 30, 2013
Posted: 1:09 AM, June 30, 2013
Can the United States survive the remaining 3 1/2 years of the Obama presidency? That was the question I asked a well-known veteran of Washington politics and national-security issues. Though a Democrat, he is trusted and respected by both parties for his many years of advice and troubleshooting service to the nation.
I asked the question because our long conversation reflected shared worries about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and America’s retreat. We discussed the disasters of Syria, Benghazi and Obama’s strange support for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi in Egypt. We agreed the odds were growing that Iran would get a nuclear weapon and feared what it would mean for Israel and our Arab allies.
We expressed shock at the lasting damage done to our intelligence agencies by Edward Snowden, the sloppy background check that enabled him to get security clearance in the first place and the Keystone Kops effort to capture him. We winced that our nation’s reputation was an international punch line as Russia and China mocked our president.
Given that context, my question of whether America can survive Obama was not just a figure of speech or an exaggerated musing. I meant it literally.
My friend understood my meaning.
“I don’t know,” he said. When I pressed him, he reviewed the scope of the global disorder we had just discussed, and repeated his answer. “I don’t know,” he said a second time.
The exchange happened last week, and my heart skips a beat when I recall it. His answer wasn’t what I expected or hoped for.
Despite my pessimism, I wanted to be talked out of it. I wanted this wise man, with his experience and calm temperament, to tell me not to worry, that we had been through worse before and America would be fine.
Maybe we will be fine. But the sense that the walls are closing in on us and that we are showing weakness to an emboldened, hostile world fills me with dread. I have a growing fear we are on the verge of a catastrophe.
It didn’t help that the Army announced it will trim our forces by 80,000 troops over five years and said more reductions might also be necessary to meet budget reductions.
Nor does it help that our president seems somewhere between indifferent and oblivious to growing global threats. His $100 million, weeklong family trip to Africa, no doubt to be followed by an August vacation, seems off-key.
And his answers at a press conference in Senegal to questions about Snowden were beyond bizarre. As my colleague Geoff Earle wrote from Washington, the president adopted a “What, me worry?” tone.
“I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” Obama said. His answer was classic Obama — setting up a straw man by falsely suggesting somebody had proposed he send jets, then minimizing Snowden’s crime by calling him a “hacker,” as though he had played a computer prank.
In fact, Snowden has been charged in a federal indictment with espionage, among other counts.
The president also disparaged suggestions he should be more involved, saying he had not spoken to the leaders of either China or Russia. “I shouldn’t have to,” he said, because the case “is not exceptional from a legal perspective.”
You would think White House reporters traveling with the president would push him on his listless approach to the crisis, but you would be wrong. Obama spent 14 minutes with the press corps as Air Force One flew later to South Africa, but got no questions about Snowden. Instead, according to The Weekly Standard, reporters asked only about the Africa trip.
So the mainstream media, like Obama, isn’t worried about anything. Which means the rest of us must continue to sound the alarm while counting down the days until Jan. 20th, 2017.
Critics fail to ‘Stop & think’
Let’s agree that Mayor Bloomberg could have found a smarter way to defend stop-and-frisk. His comment on WOR radio that “we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little” was clumsy and gave some Democratic candidates an opening for a cheap shot.
“It shows a lack of awareness and a lack of sensitivity,” Bill Thompson charged.
“To truly fix stop-and-frisk, we need an independent inspector general and a racial-profiling ban,” thundered Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
No doubt their opportunistic anger made both feel better. Wonder how they will feel if their policies lead to more minorities being killed. More importantly, how will grieving families feel?
Bloomberg’s sin was using shorthand instead of statistics. With blacks and Hispanics committing or named as suspects in 92 percent of violent crimes last year, an exact cause-and-effect would have members of those groups stopped at that rate.
But, in fact, members of those groups were stopped 87 percent of the time. Whites accounted for six percent of violent crime, but were stopped at a rate of 10 percent.
That’s what Bloomberg was trying to say. But his glib choice of words shouldn’t be allowed to obscure two larger facts.
First, the Police Department has saved thousands of lives, most of them black and Hispanic males, by taking guns off the street. The moves to handcuff cops, through lawsuits and two ruinous bills that just passed the City Council, will lead to more deaths.
Second, why don’t the candidates address the high levels of crime in minority neighborhoods? Why is it so far out of proportion to other neighborhoods?
Perhaps one day the candidates will get the courage to face the inconvenient facts. Until then, they’re simply refusing to see the elephant in the room.
‘Hateful’ spin tarnishes gays’ victory
Count me among those cheering the Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage. At least I was cheering until I read the part of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion where he claims the law he struck down was motivated by hate.
The Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between man and woman, had passed Congress and been signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996. Although the leaders of both parties unanimously supported it until Barack Obama “evolved” during last year’s campaign, Kennedy said the law inflicts an “injury and indignity” on gay Americans and reflected a “bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group.”
By extension of that logic, those who still oppose same-sex marriage are bigots.
Kennedy’s spiteful tone is unworthy of the Supreme Court, especially on such a divisive issue of conscience and religion. By stooping so low, he not only sets up the next round of litigation, but does it by demeaning millions of people who simply hold a different opinion. Shame on him for tarnishing the historic event.
Ink for the clink
Former football star Aaron Hernandez, charged with one murder and being investigated for two others, looks as if he’s been preparing for prison for years. His huge tattoos will be a perfect fit in a maximum-security lockup.