One of James Taranto's recurring categories in his WSJ Best of the Web Today column is "the soft bigotry of low expectations." We have a great candidate for it from today's Morning Joe, as, expressing the sentiment of Americans at large, Joe Scarborough asked: "why can't our president be as tough as France's president?" Ouch.
From Scarborough to Mika Brzezinski to Nicolle Wallace, Rudy Giuliani to Michael Hayden, the condemnation of President Obama's weak, shades-wearing, wave-doing, grinning response to the Brussels outrage was relentless. Most brutal and disturbing of all was the assessement of former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who said of Obama's response: "that wasn't a mistake, that wasn't weakness, that was policy, that going to the ballpark and spending less than a minute commenting on the attack. I believe in his heart of hearts the president's policy is that is not that big a deal. There are other things that are more important and that was what he was messaging."
Obama's only defender was Mike Barnicle, who wanly wondered what difference it would have made if Obama had not gone to the ballgame in Cuba and cavorted with Castro. He also pointed to US sorties against ISIS, suggesting it was evidence that Obama does indeed have a strategy. That led Rudy Giuliani to laughingly observe that if Obama doesn't realize his strategy is failing, "we need somebody else to do that job."
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I think I'm going to be with you on this one, Joe.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Wow.
MIKA: I just really think he probably could have shown up at the game, probably said a few words, probably taken off the shades and probably left early.
JOE: You're probably not done the wave with Castro, you know, it's -- he continues to fail miserably --
MIKA: -- on optics.
JOE: -- on sending the right message in our fight against ISIS. He did it with James Foley, went out golfing right after the news, the horrifying news. You look at what happened after Paris, his listless response, his weak response made Americans actually say "why can't our president be as tough as France's president?" That's something that's never said and has actually contributed to the rise of Donald Trump.
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NICOLLE WALLACE: I'm not making a partisan statement when I say that the optics of his day yesterday were catastrophic from a White House communications standpoint.
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MIKE BARNICLE: What difference would it have made yesterday had he not gone to that ball game?
RUDY GIULIANI: The difference is it would have made is that it would have made people feel he's the leader. That he's in charge. Here's what I would have done, immediately left, gotten the national security staff together and I'd say "When I wake up tomorrow morning I want a complete plan on how we destroy ISIS, no BS."
BARNICLE: You don't think he has that?
RUDY: Ha! If he does it's failing. How many attacks have we had in the last year? If he has a plan for defeating ISIS, let's go get another plan to defeat ISIS because ISIS so far has conducted more attacks in the last seven or eight months, nine months, including in the United States.
BARNICLE: But they had over 20,000 sorties, bombing raids over Syria.
GIULIANI: Maybe they're not working. Maybe they're not working. Maybe the strategy, as the Admiral pointed out, isn't working. If he can't figure out that his strategy isn't working, we need somebody else to do that job [ laughter ]
MICHAEL HAYDEN: Joe, can I just offer a comment on the previous conversation about what the president did? I'm going to say something that's going to sound pretty harsh but I think it's true: that wasn't a mistake, that wasn't weakness, that was policy, his going to the ballpark and his spending less than a minute commenting on the attack. I actually believe in his heart of hearts the president's policy is that is not that big a deal. There are other things that are more important and that was what he was messaging.
JOE: He has, Mayor Giuliani, most Americans do not understand it, he, the President of the United States, the commander-in-chief, has been underestimating ISIS' reach from the very beginning, calling them a JV team and then saying they were a JV team that had on a Kobe Bryant jersey but they were still a JV team. And then the Friday before the Paris attacks saying that they were pretty much finished and then before Oklahoma City saying they couldn't reach us in the United States of America. It does seem to be a calculated approach by this White House to say ISIS is much ado about nothing at the end of the day.