Why Americans Aren’t Buying Obama’s Message on ISISPosted: December 14, 2015
He has failed to persuade enough of the public that he is comfortable as a wartime president, largely because he doesn’t enjoy the role.
“Part of Mr. Obama’s problem is that, far from exaggerating the jihadi threat and overdoing the rhetoric, he seems to have underestimated the challenges.”
I had the same reaction Monday listening to President Barack Obama talk about how much he’s doing to defeat Islamic State. Speaking from the Pentagon, the president listed some impressive-sounding accomplishments: identifying ISIS leaders killed, the large areas in Syria and Iraq that ISIS no longer controls, air and ground efforts to destroy the jihadis. Yet 60% of the public has little confidence in Mr. Obama’s policies, a CNN/ORC poll found this month.
After almost seven years in office, the image of a risk-averse president is tough to shake. It matters little that Mr. Obama’s administration has killed Osama Bin Laden, taken out al-Qaeda core leadership and infrastructure, and expanded the drone war (making him a sort of George W. Bush on steroids when it comes to counterterrorism). He has failed to persuade enough of the public that he is comfortable as a wartime president, largely because he doesn’t enjoy the role. The image he conveys is that of a cool, non-emotive leader who prefers diplomacy (see: Iran and Cuba), who is convinced of the rightness of his policies on Iraq and Afghanistan, and who shies away from the emotional rhetoric of his predecessor (wanted: dead or alive).
Part of Mr. Obama’s problem is that, far from exaggerating the jihadi threat and overdoing the rhetoric, he seems to have underestimated the challenges. To be fair, the rise of ISIS surprised many experts on the Middle East. But they’re not in charge of U.S. national security. Mr. Obama has made enough comments–notably, comparing ISIS to a JV squad and his remark last month, just before the Paris attacks, about ISIS being contained–that even if some things, such as the containment point, have been taken out of context, the image has been established that he trivialized the ISIS threat or wasn’t aware of its true nature….(read more)
Source: Washington Wire – WSJ
Aaron David Miller is a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars and most recently the author of “The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President.” He is on Twitter: @AaronDMiller2.
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