The Obama Watch

The Obama Watch

Catch and Release

By 6.18.14

President Obama justified his release of the Taliban’s top terrorists on among other curious grounds that U.S. forces could just capture them again should they pose a risk to U.S. interests and security in the future. It doesn’t seem to bother Obama that such a careless policy means burdening soldiers with the demoralizing and exceedingly dangerous task of having to fight the same enemy multiple times.

Obama considers furor over a deliberate practice of giving terrorists a fresh chance to kill Americans a contrived “controversy.” “This is what happens at the end of wars,” he casually says. Never mind that the terrorists have no intention of joining him in his deluded declaration.

For them, the war is still in its opening stages and they can’t believe their luck at facing such an accommodating foe. The Taliban has been rejoicing ever since the release, chortling that “from the hand of the enemy” it got back its most effective leaders and fighters. Whether these terrorists will return to the battlefield is not a question of if but when.

The Obama Watch

The Madness of King George

By 6.17.14

So now Bowe Bergdahl is back in the U.S. And the five Al-Qaeda terrorists we released for him are in Qatar—doubtless on their way to Iraq or Afghanistan. The prospect of an American defeat in both countries makes the exchange look more than usually stupid, and we’re entitled to ask just what’s going on in the Obama administration. We remember the Fall of Saigon and nervously await the possible evacuation of the Embassy in Baghdad, as Obama plays golf.

We’ve seen crazy rulers before. There was a time, during the Napoleonic Wars, when most of Europe’s crowned heads were barking mad. But then they were hereditary monarchs, and that’s what happens in families. Many of us have a crazy uncle or two, a Joe Biden we bring out only after the visitors are gone.

The Obama Watch

Sliding Into the Abyss

By 6.16.14

It was an amazing week for Barack Obama — perhaps the most remarkable in his disastrous presidency. We watched history unfold as it did in Greek mythology — with all of the ills that would confront mankind escaping from Pandora’s box.

Sunday, June 8: The week began with a “prayer summit” and tree-planting at the Vatican Gardens in Rome — hosted by Pope Francis and attended by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. There were hugs all around, with prayers in Hebrew, Arabic, English, and Italian. It was a love-in as well as a pray-in — marked by the planting of an olive tree as evening fell.

The Obama Watch

Looking Ahead to 2015

By 6.12.14

The Revolution of ’94 saw Bill Clinton staring down the cannons of righteous Republican fury. However, Clinton’s clashes with a Republican Congress resulted in an era of economic expansion and fiscal responsibility. Obama may be faced with such a Congress himself, the results of which may be ominous.

Clinton faced numerous disadvantages in his confrontation with this Republican majority. His policy and political missteps had delivered control of the House and the Senate to Republicans for the first time in almost 50 years. He confronted this Congress for the next six years, losing frequently and ultimately facing impeachment. However, Clinton’s apparent disadvantages propelled him to a favorably viewed presidency. If faced with a Republican Congress himself, Obama could have more trouble.

The Obama Watch

The Prisoner Swap Deal

By 6.10.14

People are arguing about what the United States got out of the deal that swapped five top level terrorist leaders for one American soldier who was, at best, absent from his post in a war zone. Soldiers who served in the same unit with him call him a deserter. The key to this deal, however, is less likely to be what the United States got out of the deal than it is about what Barack Obama got out of the deal. If nothing else, it instantly got the veterans’ hospitals scandals off the front pages of newspapers and pushed these scandals aside on television news programs.

It was a clear winner for Barack Obama. And that may be all that matters to Barack Obama.

People who are questioning the president’s competence seem not to want to believe that any President of the United States would knowingly damage this country’s interests.

One of the problems of many fundamentally decent people is that they find it hard to understand people who are not fundamentally decent, or whose moral compass points in a different direction from theirs.

The Obama Watch

Amateur Hour

By 6.4.14

The Obama administration presented the release of Bowe Bergdahl as an indisputably glorious moment for the country. Amidst the celebration on Saturday, Obama didn’t bother to mention that Bergdahl was a deserter. Obama considered the swap of five of the most dangerous terrorists of the Taliban for Bergdahl worthy of a Rose Garden ceremony. Even for the release of a decorated soldier, that would have been a dubious idea, given the shocking, precedent-breaking character of such a trade. But for Bergdahl, whose story of desertion and possible treachery and collaboration grows more troubling with each new report, a Rose Garden ceremony seems almost like a parody of liberalism.

Obama administration officials, straining to defend the trade, noted that the Israelis have occasionally released Palestinian prisoners for hostages. But one can’t imagine the Israelis ever executing such a trade for a deserter whose actions caused the deaths of soldiers (the number keeps climbing in press reports) who conducted a long and risky search for him.

The Obama Watch

Inveterate Carelessness

By 6.2.14

Sez I: If they would do the decent thing,
And shield the missis and the little ’uns,
Why, even I might shout “God save the King,”
And face the chances of them ’ungry guns.
But we’ve got three, another on the way;
It’s that wot makes me snarl and set me jor:
The wife and nippers, wot of ’em, I say,
If I gets knocked out in this blasted war?
Gets proper busted by a shell,
But… wot the ’ell, Bill? Wot the ’ell?

Ay, wot the ’ell’s the use of all this talk?
To-day some boys in blue was passin’ me,
And some of ’em they ‘ad no legs to walk,
And some of ’em they ‘ad no eyes to see.
And — well, I couldn’t look ‘em in the face,
And so I’m goin’, goin’ to declare
I’m under forty-one and take me place
To face the music with the bunch out there.
A fool, you say! Maybe you’re right.
I’ll ’ave no peace unless I fight.
I’ve ceased to think; I only know
I’ve gotta go, Bill, gotta go.
— “The Volunteer”
Robert William Service

The Obama Watch

The Fourth Branch of Government

By 5.28.14

Preferring to look ignorant rather than irresponsible, President Obama said last week that he only recently learned of scandals at the Department of Veteran Affairs through news reports. He spoke of the problems at the department as if they had blindsided him, despite the fact that as a candidate in 2008 he railed against the “the broken bureaucracy of the V.A.” and decried outrageous delays in treatment for veterans.

He didn’t need news reports to inform him of the depth of the department’s flaws; he could have reviewed his own campaign speeches. His long familiarity with the department’s problems gave his press conference last week an air of adding insult to injury. Somehow he was at once aware of the department’s deplorable condition and unaware of it.

Obama doesn’t mind appearing as the hapless spectator on the sidelines of his government if that saves him from the charge of dereliction of duty about a known problem. Yet the plight of veterans at the hands of indifferent bureaucrats clearly lost its urgency for him once the 2008 campaign ended and only now resumes urgency for him as an annoying political problem.

The Obama Watch

The Obama Coalition Is About to Come Apart

By 5.16.14

For the past decade the Democrats have managed to defy gravity by bolting together an unlikely coalition of the richest and poorest Americans. It’s no secret. Ever since President Bush’s re-election in 2004, the pattern has been clear. People making above $100,000 and below $40,000 vote Democratic. The people in the middle vote Republican.

But now that top-bottom coalition is about to come apart, or lose its majority status at least. And the issue will be one that may loom larger than the debacle of Obamacare — the Keystone Pipeline.

Forget all that business about Barack Obama being the first African-American President, the child of poverty and discrimination who fought his way to the top through sheer brilliance and doggedness. Sure African-Americans vote 90 percent for him and form an indispensable part of his coalition. But Obama hasn’t done a thing for them since taking office except increase unemployment.

The Obama Watch

Downplaying Jihadism

By 5.14.14

President Obama’s aversion to any perceived “war on Islam” has consistently led his administration to downplay the problem of jihad. Its outrage over the abductions of hundreds of young women in Nigeria by the jihadist organization Boko Haram hasn’t changed that stance. The State Department is still reluctant to make mention of Boko Haram’s Islamic character. Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department hesitated to label the group even a terrorist organization, despite its long catalogue of terrorist acts.

This reticence came at a time when Obama officials had no problem accusing Christians of waging a “war on women” for merely resisting Obamacare’s free contraceptives mandate. Obama is willing to indulge war-on-women rhetoric for such imaginary offenses, but he doesn’t dare accuse Islam of waging a war on women for real ones.