Thursday, May 23, 2019 -
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Obama’s vacation

ONE question: Why is Obama still in Hawaii? To tell the truth, I was not too impressed with his going there in the first place. But OK, that is just my pet peeve. In a time of war, when American soldiers are dying on battlefields; at a time when the economy is crashing and thousands, if not millions, have lost work since Obama took office — to leave the White House or the traditional vacation choice of Camp David for an excessively ostentatious vacation and leisurely golf party with family and friends, even if it is the holidays, didn’t sit so well with me.

I would have preferred a leader who showed some solidarity with us fellow Americans, his people. A president whose choice was more respectful toward the troops serving our country in Afghanistan.

Let’s not even address the question of who exactly is paying for this party.

But then there is an attack on an American airliner whose destination is the United States of America, a Christmas day attack — for many, a day that is the ultimate holiday — and Obama still doesn’t budge. I guess nothing comes between him and his golf. Even national security. Even the American people.

Why didn’t we hear from Obama for over 72 hours from the time of the attempted terrorist attack on Northwest airline flight 253? Why is that OK?

And when a delayed response to the attack did finally come, it was by proxy, from his press secretary. Even then, three days later and from a second-hand source, it was a detached, passive, platitude. Again.

In typical fashion, instead of taking a stand, the content of Obama’s response is descriptive, “a passenger allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device . . .” as if we did not already know that from the most basic media report, be it in a newspaper, on the radio or television. That’s what news outlets are for, not what statements from the commander-in-chief are for. From him we expect a comment based on the news, not the news.

Are you as taken aback by his use of the word “allegedly” as I am? Allegedly. A term used in a trial for a citizen, a defendant who is considered innocent until proven guilty in the American judicial system. With subtle language, Obama has shifted the consciousness of the American people about this foreign, hostile, radical Islamic terrorist whose bombing to death an entire airplane of people was foiled only because of a brave, courageous and heroic Dutch filmmaker sitting near him, to that of a legitimate criminal case.

Obama also referred to this horrifying incident, to the terrorist Abdulmutallab, as an “isolated extremist.” Never mind the fact that we all know this to be false, that Abdulmutallab did not act alone and has been officially linked with Yemen and al-Qaeda, taking his terrorist act to an international level.

Never mind the small-mindedness of such a comment, even if all these connections were were not known, given the pervasiveness of radical Islam and the threat of terror.

But why the denial? It seems that Obama is more protective of Abdulmutallab than this terrorist’s own father, a wealthy banker from Nigeria who did not hesitate to report his son to the US embassy in his country as a dangerous character to be aware of.

More than anything Obama’s comment seems to reflect a basic incompetence and ineffectiveness. The “isolated extremist” is referred to in the context of praising the citizenry and passengers for being more resilient than an “isolated extremist.”

Let’s not be totally foolish. Luck, destiny, or fate. Whatever you believe thwarted this attack, we got lucky this time. We have come face to face with another hero who did whatever it took to stop this terrorist — even if it would have cost him his own life. This was fate. This was luck. This was destiny. And Obama is responding to the reaction of passengers as something to rely on, instead of articulating a policy addressing the real issue of national security, so as not to offend extremist Muslims?

Nothing is being done about the problem itself —  only a sanitized Obama version of “the violent extremists who threaten us” — because, I suppose, he won’t call it by its name and just say it like it is: terrorism. Again, the innocent citizens are more restricted with airport and travel rules, rather than the government doing its job, going after root of the problem: extremists planning terrorist attacks.

I SAY this with a heavy heart. This must be a difficult time for the peace-embracing Muslims of the world. Obama lumps all Muslims as one, pretending that all Muslims are equal, that there is no problem of dangerous, radical extremism within the religion today. This is unfair and disrespectful to the good, faithful Muslims.

I would have liked to hear something different from Obama. But  it’s never going to come. He is who he is. A passive, mediating, wanting to get along with everyone, pleaser type of personality. Some might see these qualities as weakness; others might see them as good qualities on their own, perhaps for a university professor, perhaps even for golfing in Hawaii. But for a leader? They ring hollow.

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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