Michael Goodwin devotes his New York Post column this morning to the spectacle of President Obama orating on the beheading of James Foley by the Islamic State and golfing with his buddies a few minutes later. In the New York Times, Peter Baker and Julie Davis assured us that, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, everything was copacetic. I thought their evidence was thin at best.
I wrote about Obama’s statement in “Appalling” and about Obama’s joyous golf outing in “When Barry gets blue.” Goodwin’s response to the spectacle replays some common themes but is worth pausing over:
Sometimes a round of golf is just a round of golf. And sometimes it reveals the essence of a man.
President Obama’s decision to hit the links and yuk it up with pals immediately after speaking about the beheading of James Foley was no ordinary mistake. Nor was it a simple gaffe.The decision continues to cause an uproar because, like an X-ray, there is no escaping the image. It shows there is no there there.
With even his media praetorian guard appalled, the golf outing is sparking a wider understanding that Obama is hollow, empty of the routine qualities Americans expect from their president.
Simple decency and respect for Foley’s horrified parents should have been enough to sober him. If that didn’t do it, the realization that the Islamic State had declared war on America in the most gruesome fashion imaginable should have sounded a call of duty in his head.
Instead, Obama continued with his vacation and was photographed looking as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Suddenly, that megawatt smile that often charmed voters wasn’t so charming. It was vacuous.
He looked like an empty-headed frat boy, numb to the world.
Maybe that’s not just an appearance. Maybe it’s the truth. Maybe that’s all there is.
It is a bitter idea to consider. To say he is a failed president, even unfit, does not rule out the possibility he deeply wants to measure up but doesn’t know how.
But what if it’s worse than that? What if, after six years of frustration and failure, he’s just not into being president anymore?
Bill Clinton told Americans, “I feel your pain.” What if Obama doesn’t give a whit what Americans feel?
As commander in chief, Obama swore to defend the nation. Yet the rise of the demonic cult calling itself Islamic State has barely stirred him.
The group he once ridiculed as being like the al Qaeda junior varsity has achieved what Osama bin Laden never did: It controls a huge swath of territory in Syria and Iraq. It is so bloodthirsty that some jihadist groups shun its brand of barbarism as too indiscriminate.
Most important, it makes threats against America, saying, “We will drown all of you in blood.” It vows to raise its black flag over the White House and threatened Chicago and other cities.
All of this, especially the beheading of Foley and the threat to kill another American journalist it holds, are aimed at stopping even modest US support for the Iraqi army.
Yet the president, after giving a perfunctory speech about the horror of it all, shrugged his shoulders. Later, his attorney general said a criminal investigation had been opened, as if the beheading was just a crime.
It is hard to fathom what Obama is doing or thinking. No explanation comes close to being satisfactory….
Obama is worse than an empty suit and the Baker/Davis Times article demonstrates that “the media’s praetorian guard” is not entirely disaffected. The media will return to duty on Obama’s behalf in any event, but I appreciate the asperity of Goodwin’s observations. Whole thing (and there is more) here.