Speakers at the Democratic National Convention dwelled on the ways in which Obama had made the nation safer through his foreign policy efforts in the Middle East, but events of the past fortnight expose a weakness hidden behind empty rhetoric. He told the United Nations that in the wake of the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya, "we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of this crisis." He should listen to his teleprompter. He continues to heap blame on "the crude and disgusting anti-Muslim" video, which almost nobody has actually seen, while speaking softly of the terrorism of radical Islamists.
John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, correctly called the president's U.N. speech a "warm, fuzzy rhetorical blanket." The president sent his secretary of state to do the heavy lifting with world leaders while he basked in the love of the sorority of ladies on "The View," joking about being their token "eye candy."
Amid the banter of the ladies, he conceded that the attack on the consulate in Benghazi "wasn't just a mob attack"; the president and his surrogates insisted for days afterward that it was. There was a determined reluctance to call it what it was, assassinations by terrorists armed with heavy weapons.
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan pointed out the danger in the president's warm, fuzzy rhetorical blanket when he campaigned with Mitt Romney this week in Ohio. "It projects weakness," he said. When the president eviscerates the defense budget and equivocates over whom to blame for the attacks against us, "our enemies have more incentive to attack us, and our allies are less willing to trust us."
Reliance on sanctions that haven't worked -- while refusing to draw the bright red line that, if crossed, would invite the retaliation of American might -- is a clear signal to Iran that it can keep stockpiling enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb. The president's prose is pretty enough, but after four years of diplomatic dithering and delay, what he does is so loud no one can hear what he says.
"Make no mistake," he told the U.N.; "a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations and the stability of the global economy." He talks the talk but won't walk the walk. The events of the past two weeks, which should alarm everybody, are mere "bumps in the road" to him. With bumps like those, a blast from the shofar shouldn't be necessary to get a president's attention.