President issues challenge to Congress on terror
President Barack Obama's attempt Sunday night to reassure a jittery nation hit all the right notes, but probably won't have much effect. Americans are newly jittery because the mass murder in San Bernardino, Calif., last week was a planned act of...
President Barack Obama's attempt Sunday night to reassure a jittery nation hit all the right notes, but probably won't have much effect.
Americans are newly jittery because the mass murder in San Bernardino, Calif., last week was a planned act of terrorism carried out by a couple motivated by ISIS.
That home-grown element of the threat changed the way Americans perceive their security. The president's encouragement to Americans was welcome, but he has to do much more to ease a new sense of vulnerability.
In that regard, the president's challenge to Congress was probably the most important element of his short speech from the Oval Office. He urged the House and Senate to get on board with the fight against ISIS and domestic terrorism by passing resolutions that would put Congress on the same page as the administration regarding military campaigns against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
In effect, he called for a united American response, rather than the second-guessing and backbiting that has characterized criticism of the administration's attempts to build a broad-based coalition of allies to degrade and destroy ISIS.
The reluctance of many key members of Congress to vote on war resolutions suggests politics is taking the lead over the national interest. The failure to formally recognize the nation is at war-while spewing political rhetoric that the president doesn't recognize the nation is at war-is hypocrisy at its most callous. Members of Congress need not like the president. They are, however, obligated to recognize his constitutional role as commander-in-chief, and should support him when the nation is at risk. Anything less gives aid and comfort to the enemy.
Furthermore, the president's noisiest critics scream like stuck pigs when he issues executive orders about matters far less serious than national security. Now he's asking them for full participation in a matter of war, and they balk.
For his part, President Obama has been less-than-respectful to his critics in Congress, often coming off like a condescending lecturer. He has not been good at reaching out. Instead of learning from them, he has dismissed their insights.
Maybe the Sunday night speech signals a change. Maybe by asking Congress to grasp its responsibility to declare war on a clear threat to the homeland, the president can bring the nation together, at least on this one vital question. Of course, Congress has to respond-has to do its part to present a unified front, which can go a long way toward settling the nation's jitters.