Monday was a horrible day for American leadership. First, our petulant, tone-deaf president showed more anger toward his political critics than toward ISIS. Second, the Republican presidential hopefuls turned their backs on Syrian war refugees in a xenophobic frenzy.
At a news conference in Turkey for the G-20 summit, Barack Obama bristled in defense of his ISIS strategy, his initial dismissal of the terrorist state, his military response, his diplomacy, and his willingness to accept refugees from Syria.
“And,” wrote my colleague George Condon, “there was no hiding his frustration.”
Which was a shame, because nobody cares about Obama’s precious feelings.
What the people of France and its freedom-loving allies care about is defeating ISIS. They wonder about the commitment of a U.S. president who dismissed ISIS as a “JV team” before it beheaded Americans, who declared ISIS “contained” before it attacked Paris, and whose advisers now say ISIS can’t attack the United States. Nobody believes that.
“No,” Obama insisted, “we haven’t underestimated [their] abilities.” Nobody believes that, either.
For all his skills as an orator, Obama is a lousy communicator. He doesn’t lead, he lectures. He argues rather than educates. His rhetoric is self-focused, not uplifting toward a cause greater than himself. He spins and shifts blame, rarely admitting fault.