Commentary Magazine


The Frustration of Reality

Bob Herbert gives us a peek into the mindset I think permeates the Left and the Obama administration in particular:

I’m starting the new year with the sinking feeling that important opportunities are slipping from the nation’s grasp. Our collective consciousness tends to obsess indiscriminately over one or two issues — the would-be bomber on the flight into Detroit, the Tiger Woods saga — while enormous problems that should be engaged get short shrift.

A celebrity scandal. A terrorist-bombing attack (the third on the homeland last year). All the same. Such a distraction. So many overheated conservatives. Can’t we just move along? You can feel his desperation and the frustration that precious time, energy, and resources are being diverted from the ultraliberal agenda:

Voters were primed at the beginning of the Obama administration for fundamental changes that would have altered the trajectory of American life for the better. Politicians of all stripes, many of them catering to the nation’s moneyed interests, fouled that up to a fare-thee-well. Now we’re escalating in Afghanistan, falling back into panic mode over an attempted act of terror and squandering a golden opportunity to build a better society.

That’s the mindset, of course, that caused the president to slough off the Christmas Day bombing. That’s the predisposition that led to the imposition of an 18-month deadline in Afghanistan — at the price of sending a mixed message about our intentions and unsettling our allies there and in Pakistan. The Democrats’ window of opportunity to remake American society is closing faster than they ever imagined. And now all anyone wants to talk about is national security, terrorism, connecting dots, and the president’s refusal to use the words “Islamic fundamentalism.” The liberals are beside themselves. This was not to be. After all, they told us, it was the Bushies who exaggerated the dangers and put us on a needlessly alarmist path. The Obami were there to put all of that aside and get back to the pent up domestic demands of the Left.

Obama plainly shares Herbert’s sense that a moment is passing us by. His policies and demeanor have been designed to replace the war against jihadists with an inward looking, government-centric agenda as the nation’s primary focus. This is the moment — so long as supermajorities in Congress remain — to get it done, they plead. But wait. Doesn’t this historic moment also include a critical juncture for Iran, where a totalitarian revolutionary Islamic state might be overthrown by a popular revolt? Doesn’t the “golden opportunity” also include the potential that freedom and democracy will triumph over the death cult of the jihadists?

Sadly, it doesn’t seem so for the Obami. Not only do the administration and its restive supporters on the Left not see those international commitments as vital and “glorious” (as the president put it in deriding the conduct of the war against Islamic fascism), but they seem to imagine that the great era of prosperity and social progress is possible if we husband our resources (e.g., starve the Defense Department), limit America’s commitments (no open-ended ones, thank you), and stop raising the alarm when America is attacked. Yes, it’s as if 9/11 never occurred. Too bad reality keeps knocking at our door.