This column originally appeared on Townhall.com on January 5, 2010.
The editor of the New Yorker was once asked about the hip, cool, insider writing that graced his journal. Didn’t its stylish prose go over people’s heads? “We don’t write it for the little old lady from Dubuque,” he replied. Not pitching your case to the little old lady from Dubuque, Iowa, became a hallmark of modern sophisticated liberalism–a liberalism more characterized by point-of-view than by policy point papers. So when the New Yorker’s Christmas week number hit newsstands, it was bound to attract attention.
The cover showed President Obama bowing to Santa. In their typical way, the editors of the New Yorker had captured not just the moment, but the year. Or have they captured in that cartoon bow the Age of Obama?
Was it only starchy conservatives, appalled traditionalists, offended republicans who groused when our bright new President bowed low before the Saudi king? It was his first foray into foreign summitry. Was there no one in his inner circle to tell him that the Saudi royal family is not very popular among–and this is key–Obama’s target audience of non-jihadist Muslims? The Saudi royal family jealously guards their title as Custodian of the Holy Places of Islam. They make pilgrims of the Hajj pay through the nose for the privilege of visiting those shrines. It is no unusual thing to see stampedes of panicked pilgrims in those areas and lives lost in the melees. Recall the deaths at Woodstock–but on an annual, predictable basis.
The Saudi royal family also funds the Wahhabi version of Islam worldwide. This version of Islam is the seedbed of jihadism. It’s a factor in our prisons and even in some stateside madrassas. If Barack Obama truly wants to promote a more tolerant Islam–the kind practiced by the good-hearted folks he recalls from his boyhood years in Indonesia–he couldn’t have picked a worse way of showing it.
There is only one bow I would like to see our President make. I’d like him to bow to reality. He appeared before a podium and a presidential seal in Hawaii. Tieless, he assured us that the failed Christmas Day attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was the work of an “isolated extremist.”
How did Obama know that? Very quickly word is coming out that the 23-year old Nigerian may well have been schooled by the same Imam who coached the Fort Hood shooter. Is it the extremists who are isolated? Or is Barack Obama isolated?
The charges against Abdulmutallab will doubtless include 288 counts of attempted murder. But if the jet jockeys terrorist wanted to kill only 288, he could have detonated his bomb over the Atlantic. He waited until final descent because he wanted to bring down that Northwest Airlines jet over the Detroit airport crowded with holiday travelers. The death toll might well have exceeded that of 9/11. On Christmas. Get the point?
Are there more young killers in the skies? Before he was read his Miranda rights, and given a taxpayer-funded lawyer, Abdulmutallab was our best source for information about the nature, extent, and future plans of the worldwide terrorist conspiracy bent on slaughtering Americans.
President Obama–in between Hawaiian snorkeling sessions and family outings to anti-American movies–said we were doing “all in our power” to meet this threat. I wanted to yell: “Where’s Joe Wilson now?” Even if we didn’t agree with the obstreperous South Carolina congressman who yelled “You lie!” during Obama’s September speech, we have to admit there’s an overwhelming temptation to yell when Obama says things that are patently untrue.
Of course, he is not doing all in his power to fight terrorism. He could give them military trials at Guantanamo Bay. That’s what the facility was designed for. That’s what it should be used for. That’s what a strong liberal President like FDR would do. Military trials for would-be killers during time of war is exactly how FDR treated captured Nazi saboteurs.
Congress should bow to reality. It can show it understands the nature of the terrorist threat better than the Executive. Congress has the power to deny any federal funds for civilian trials of enemy combatants. If President Obama clings to the isolated extremism of the ACLU, Congress can save him–and us–from the dangerous consequences of this folly. And if Congress refuses, the people can give them a reality check in November.