In his remarkably unenthusiastic and perfunctory appearance yesterday (couldn’t he at least have shaved or put on a tie?), Obama uttered this line: “This incident, like several that have preceded it, demonstrates that an alert and courageous citizenry are far more resilient than an isolated extremist.” Huh? Is he really an isolated extremist? (An extremist what, by the way? The word the president dares not speak except in praise: “Islamic.”) An avalanche of news reports suggests that the bomber has some connection to al-Qaeda.
While cautioning against speculation about the exact role of released Guantanamo detainees, Tom Joscelyn explains that “we know the following: [the al-Qaeda Arabian Peninsula] has claimed responsibility for the attack and this is consistent with other evidence, including Abdulmutallab’s own admissions. Some of AQAP’s most senior positions are held by former Gitmo detainees, so there is a strong possibility that they played a role in this attack.” In its statement, AQAP suggests this was anything but an “isolated extremist” and promises more attacks on Americans.
So why is the president spouting the “isolated extremist” line? Well, it fits nicely with the criminal-justice model upon which the president is fixated — lone suspect, read him his rights, try him in civilian court, etc. But does this line bear any resemblance to reality? Increasingly, Obama’s utterances seem divorced from facts readily available to the public. The public must be wondering what the president is talking about and why he keeps saying things that just aren’t so.