"Bully pulpit" is a phrase coined by Teddy Roosevelt to describe the White House as a platform from which to promote an agenda. Today, almost any high office might be seen as a bully pulpit. Take, as an example, the American Secretary of State, an office now occupied by Mrs. William Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton carries some unique personal baggage which might have forecast her Cabinet persona. During her husband's two terms in office, she and her daughter were humiliated on more than a few occasions by reports of her husband's indiscretions, subsequent perjuries, and impeachment. Mrs. Clinton chose to defend her husband as a victim and endure, even to this day, what is almost certainly a political marriage. She claimed to be ignorant of her husband's exploits, assuming the victim mantel for herself too. Never mind the long litany of "bimbo eruptions" that preceded Ms. Lewinsky. Pretense is often the habitual pose of victims. Some might draw a bright line between personal and public behaviors; but any adult woman should know that "the personal is political."
Burdened with such saddle bags, Mrs. Clinton's performance in the wake of the Benghazi atrocities is consistent with her personal history. The knee jerk response at State was defensive, assuming the victim's pretense on behalf of Islamists. The Secretary of State ignored the obvious coincidence with the 9/11 anniversary and adopted the very excuse manufactured for the Benghazi butchers, an obscure You Tube film clip; an amateur piece of Coptic propaganda that might be ignored had not the American president and Secretary of State elevated its profile. Mrs Clinton used words like "disgusting and reprehensible" to characterize the film, but never uses such language to characterize Islamist killers or their culture.
If any group in the world has earned the right to mock Islam, it is the Coptic Christian diaspora. The Copts of Egypt have lived under the oppressive yoke of a Muslim majority for a thousand years. A little humor at the prophet's expense doesn't come close to righting that historical injustice.
The internet is rife with anti-Islamic trash talk anyway. So are Hollywood and the literary world. Recent works by Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchins are examples. The clip prepared by Coptic expats has the same significance as those Danish cartoons mocking Mohammed; a ready- made excuse, not a cause. Clearly the attack on the American consulate in Libya was not spontaneous; yet, Mrs. Clinton took the bait and the opportunity to reinforce several myths about Arab "friendship," Muslim moderation, and the need for continued American finance and forbearance.
The most telling coda to the ongoing Libya drama was the televised ceremony of Mrs. Clinton and Barak Obama at Andrews AFB greeting coffins from Benghazi, near Washington, close to the beltway media. When was the last time the administration greeted a military coffin out of the limelight at Dover AFB, soldiers or marines killed by our erstwhile Muslim allies in South Asia? Somehow, the death of State Department cookie pushers in North Africa is a public tragedy, but the futile loss of American soldiers in Afghanistan, again to "allies," is just another statistic. The most that a dead soldier's family might expect from a campaigning White House is a form letter with an autopen signature.
While Muslim militants run up the black flags of submission over American embassies abroad, the State Department runs up the white flag of appeasement here at home. As long as victims are confused with villains in the State Department and in the Oval Office, Mohammad's thugs have no reason to exercise restraint, ever.
There's nothing "bully" about the American political pulpit today.
G. Murphy Donovan is a veteran who writes frequently about national security and politics.