Obama will pay a price for blaming intelligence services for ISIS failures. The only question is how high it will be.
President Obama’s 60 Minutes interview, taped last Friday and aired Sunday, is turning out to be a disaster for him, and may even be a tipping point of sorts. There are six dimensions to the disaster.
1. By blaming the intelligence community for his failure to act on the ISIS threat, he ensured that a series of damaging leaks will be coming, and they are already starting.
The UK Daily Mail, always far less constrained than the American media when it comes to revealing information damaging to the American progressive establishment, quotes “an administration insider,” summarized in its own bullet points:
- A national security staffer in the Obama administration said the president has been seeing 'highly accurate predictions' about the rise of the ISIS terror army since 'before the 2012 election'
- Obama insisted in his campaign speeches that year that America was safe and al-Qaeda was 'on the run'
- The president said during Sunday's '60 Minutes' program that his Director of National Intelligence had conceded he underestimated ISIS
- But the administration aide insisted that Obama's advisers gave him actionable information that sat and gathered dust for more than a year
- 'He knew what was at stake,' the aide said of the president, and 'he knew where all the moving pieces were'
- Obama takes daily intelligence briefings in writing, he explained, because no one will be able to testify about warning the president in person about threats that the White House doesn't act on
This may be a foretaste of what is to come, as intelligence officials realize they will be sacrificial lambs.
2. Obama has now handed his political opponents a big issue. He has failed in his duty to protect America.
Republicans are not remaining quiet. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the Hosue Intelligence Committee, is quoted in The Hill saying that
...the intelligence community had warned President Obama about the threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria for "over a year."
"This was not an Intelligence Community failure, but a failure by policy makers to confront the threat," Rogers said in a statement Monday.
3. The media, which had invested so much in his success for so many years, is having a hard time coping with such a naked demonstration of personal irresponsibility on such grave matters.
Yesterday, Josh Earnest faced the unenviable task of walking back the president’s remarks without ever giving a sense that he made a mistake:
"The president’s commander in chief and he’s the one who takes responsibility for ensuring that we have the kinds of policies in place that are required to protect our interests around the globe," Earnest said.
This so clearly contradicts Obama’s blamethrowing that it can only provoke more outrage from those paying attention.
Even Ron Fournier of the National Journal (and former AP White House correspondent), no raging rightie, could not restrain himself, and tweeted:
I, me, my. It's their fault. I, me, my. It's their fault. I, me, my. It's their fault. I, me, my. It's their fault. I, me, my ...
4. There is a substantial public record that Obama was warned on not just ISIS but several related national security issues, and ignored them for political benefit – to maintain his 2012 election narrative that Al Qaeda was decimated and on the run. As Rick Moran pointed out yesterday, the on-the-record evidence that Obama was amply warned is substantial, as Eli Lake documented. Today, David Rutz of the Washington Free Beacon adds to the list with historical depth.
All of these factors affect only those people paying attention, and as everyone knows, it is the low information voters who hold the fate of the nation in their hands. So, the question becomes: what impressions will they be gaining? And here is where the tipping point analogy becomes hazardous for Obama.
5. National security is a gut-level issue, and Obama is forming an image of someone unable to muster the level of concern or leadership necessary to protect us. The startling images of Americans being beheaded by ISIS (and by a Muslim convert in the heartland) have penetrated the low information bubble, and people realize that we face a serious threat.
Once the impression is created that Obama is irresponsible in his duty to protect us, it will be very hard indeed for him to escape a degree of scorn, particularly if the threat from ISIS and domestic terrorists (including lone wolves who may not be done with beheadings) continues to produce dramatic images. One thought that keeps me up at night is that we already have over a thousand “advisors” wearing boots that are on the ground in Iraq and probably Syria, and these troops are at risk of being captured and beheaded on camera. What would be the response of the public if an American soldier suffers this fate and it is on the internet?
The expression “security moms” was created to encapsulate a large sector of the Democrats’ female base that becomes uneasy when they perceive a security issue that could affect their loved ones. There can be plenty of security dads, too.
6. There is disturbing evidence that Obama is just not interested enough in the hard, detailed, and potentially boring minutiae of national security. He has attended less than half (42.7%) of the Presidential Daily Briefings in the first 2079 days of his presidency. And when he reads a memo, he does so on an iPad.
I love my iPad, and use it a lot. But that is in casual settings, often while watchign TV. Is Obama watching sports as he consults his iPad? It does not connote responsibility.
With an election in a bit over a month, the timing could not be worse. Obama may face a reckoning. Unfortunately, so will America.