In his memoir, Leon Panetta argued that for all of Barack Obama’s strengths, he is missing an essential ingredient of leadership. He lacks “fire,” wrote Obama’s former CIA director and Pentagon chief. “The president relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.”
Obama has proved Panetta right again and again during his presidency, but never more dangerously so than with his shoulder-shrug approach to ISIS. Obama called it a “J.V. team” before it started beheading Americans. He said it was "contained" before it attacked Paris. Now he’s calling it “a bunch of killers with good social media.”
That’s how you describe a street gang—a bunch of killers with good social media. The Islamic State is no street gang.
Objective observers from across the political spectrum took exception to Obama’s tone. This from Frank Bruni, a liberal-minded New York Times columnist:
He was at his worst just after the Paris attacks, when he communicated as much irritation with the second-guessing of his stewardship as he did outrage over Paris and determination to destroy the Islamic State, or ISIS.
He owed us something different, something more. He’d just said, the day before Paris, that ISIS was contained and that it was weakening, so there was an onus on him to make abundantly clear that he grasped the magnitude of the threat and was intensely focused on it.
From Obama we needed fire. Instead we got embers, along with the un-presidential portrayal of Republicans as sniveling wimps whose fears about refugees were akin to their complaints about tough debate questions.
There it is again—“from Obama we needed fire.”