Given that conservatives have continued to prosecute their all-out war on Obama’s handling of our fight against Al Qaeda, it was nice to hear a strong defense of the administration coming from somewhere near the top. Here is one excerpt from Joe Biden’s appearance on Meet The Press today:
DAVID GREGORY: What about the general proposition that the President according to former Vice President Cheney doesn’t consider America to be at war and is essentially soft on terrorism? What do you say about that?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I don’t think the Vice– the Former Vice President Dick Cheney listens. The President of the United States said in the State of the Union, “We’re at war with Al Qaeda.” He stated this– and by the way, we’re pursuing that war with a vigor like it’s never been seen before. We’ve eliminated 12 of their top 20 people. We have taken out 100 of their associates. We are making, we’ve sent them underground. They are in fact not able to do anything remotely like they were in the past. They are on the run. I don’t know where Dick Cheney has been. Look, it’s one thing, again, to– to criticize. It’s another thing to sort of rewrite history. What is he talking about?
This follows Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan’s piece last week in USA Today in which he said:
This administration’s efforts have disrupted dozens of terrorist plots against the homeland and been responsible for killing and capturing hundreds of hard-core terrorists, including senior leaders in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond — far more than in 2008. We need no lectures about the fact that this nation is at war.
Now, no doubt these defenses will not placate Obama’s political enemies. They are at war with Obama himself. The right-wing will not be satisfied by good news that the 9/11 perpetrators are being diminished on a daily basis. They don’t like Obama’s approach because it lacks the language of authoritarianism that conservatives covet.
Not content with merely being at war with Al Qaeda, they want Obama to buy into their larger “war on terror” because such a posture allows for a wide array of possibilities—both domestic and foreign—that will help satisfy their authoritarian cravings. From wanting more warrantless surveillance of Americans to suggesting starting a war with Iran, their authoritarian jones simply can’t be satisfied by a thoughtful, “professorial” approach they claim Obama’s policies represent.
Especially now that the Obama administration has tripled down on the efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan—with unarguable success—conservatives these days have to focus on some other aspect of the administration’s policy they want to make the public believe is leaving us vulnerable to terrorism. Thus, a return to an emphasis on the language that Obama uses, as he prosecutes the war on actual terrorists, as opposed to an amorphous war on a tactic, “terror.”
What some have called a right-wing meme still makes its way about the culture. You’ve heard it: “Obama won’t even use the word ‘terror.‘“ In a stunning example of not only right-wing hysteria, but of mainstream media compliance with such hysteria, here is a transcript from CNN from early January:
GLORIA BORGER: How has he — Senator DeMint, how — how has he down-played the risk of terror?
DEMINT: Well, it begins with not even being willing to use the word.
BORGER: Well, aside from the semantics, aside from that.
As Greg Sargent pointed out,
The rebuttal is that not only has Obama repeatedly used the word, he had used it as recently as one day before DeMint’s accusation! You gotta love that liberal media, letting hard-core conservatives lie about Obama that way.
But thankfully, there are other outlets. Here is one example that utterly destroys the Obama-won’t-use-the-word-terror meme:
If you think such a devastating rebuttal of outrageous right-wing hysteria would stop the insane references to language and Obama’s war efforts, you would be wrong. Here is something Sarah Palin said, to much applause, at the Tea Party Convention last weekend:
Let me say, too, it’s not politicizing our security to discuss our concerns because Americans deserve to know the truth about the threats that we face and what the administration is or isn’t doing about them. So let’s talk about them. New terms used like “overseas contingency operation” instead of the word “war.” That reflects a world view that is out of touch with the enemy that we face. We can’t spin our way out of this threat. It is one thing to call a pay raise a job created or saved. It is quite another to call the devastation that a homicide bomber can inflict a “manmade disaster.” I just say, come on, Washington, if no where else, national security, that is one place where you’ve got to call it like it is.
She went on to say:
We need a foreign policy that distinguishes America’s friends from her enemies and recognizes the true nature of the threats that we face.
The “true nature of the threats that we face” is what Obama and his administration have finally got right. And for that the right-wing offers nothing but ridicule and fear. The latest book by a former Bush official, Marc Thiessen, has as part of its title the following:
How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack
Thiessen began his attacks on Obama rather early. Last year he wrote:
It’s not even the end of inauguration week, and Obama is already proving to be the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office.
All of this illustrates that conservatives are more interested in a “War on Obama” than anything else.