Posted on October 11, 2010
Obama In Orbit
Prez views USA from a distance
Whenever he's presented with an opportunity to remark upon the War on Terror, President Obama sounds less like the leader of the free world than like a dispassionate literary theoretician.
In an interview with author Bob Woodward, the president said, "We can absorb another terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9-11, the biggest attack ever … we absorbed it and we are stronger."
Any other president might have said we would "survive" or "withstand" another attack like 9-11, but "absorb"? An act of terrorism that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people is not something to be passively soaked in, like a dime store novel or movie of the week. Yet that is the lack of gravity that the president's rhetoric conveys. We laughed, we cried, it became a part of us.
This was just one within a pattern of instances in which Obama has discussed America's fight against terrorism in weirdly detached terms. In response to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "truther" claims, the president referred to the 9-11 attacks as "the seminal tragedy of this generation." Instead of describing an unprovoked assault on his own country, it sounds like he's writing a sycophantic movie review of The Deer Hunter.
Could everybody please agree to stop calling 9-11 a "tragedy" already? A tragedy contains an element of misfortune. When King Lear's personal character flaws indirectly and unintentionally lead to the hanging of his daughter Cordelia, that's a tragedy. If he instead simply beat Cordelia to death with a chair, that would not be a tragedy, it would be just plain murder.
Something that is "seminal" plants the seeds for later cultivation. This term is most often used in reference to an influential work of art, music or literature, as in, "Gone With the Wind is a seminal American novel." What Obama probably meant was that 9-11 was an event that will inform our perception of the other major events of our lifetimes, which is certainly true, but stated in a distantly clinical manner. He was supposed to be angrily refuting a slander against America by one of its worst enemies, not writing a sociology term paper.
The most inappropriately lighthearted of these statements was made by Obama at his signing of the Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act, so named after the Wall Street Journal reporter who was beheaded by jihadists in 2002. With dumbfounding callousness, he said, "the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world's imagination, because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is."
Whose imagination, exactly, was supposed to have been captured by a person's decapitation, Ozzy Osbourne's? An event that is said to capture the imagination is usually something positive, like the moon landing. It's not generally something that would be said of an atrocity. For the president to have made such an observation under those circumstances trivialized the reality of a man's murder. Pearl's family, some of whom were in attendance, deserved better than to have his killing referenced in the kind of language one might use to describe an interesting cloud formation.
Obama treated the Fort Hood massacre so dismissively that it didn't even rate as the first bullet point in his prepared remarks. While speaking at an American Indian tribal leaders' conference, he took the time to thank his Cabinet officials, and to give a "shout out" to one of the guests in attendance, before finding it necessary to acknowledge the murder of 13 Americans at an Army base by a traitor.
It's not that Obama doesn't care about American victims of terrorism. It's just that he seems to care about them in the same way that people in one country care about earthquake victims half a world away. "Gee, I feel terrible about those poor people in East Shlobobia. So who are the Penguins playing tonight?"
That's only to be expected, when we've elected a president who does not identify with our country as it is presently constituted. Obama is a "citizen of the world," who promised to "fundamentally transform" America, a nation for which he habitually apologizes when he travels overseas.
In short, he sees himself as being above America -- high above, as if in the heavens. He views America from a distance, and isn't particularly fond of what he sees. After all, it's not his country, at least not until after the "transformation" is complete. So excuse him if he doesn't take attacks against it too personally.-- Daniel Clark is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
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