Sunday, July 10, 2016

Inconvenient Attacks, Vague Language... How the world fell out of love with Obama

In countries key to the president’s legacy, people express profound disappointment in a man from whom they expected great things....

Even in the wake of an unspeakable atrocity like that which occurred in Dallas on Thursday night, the president could not resist the opportunity to inject politics into the moment. Barack Obama’s calls for politically polarizing new gun control laws in the immediate aftermath of this divisive and racially-charged attack on police was ill-advised but hardly unexpected. When it comes to the issue of gun violence, Obama is a man with a hammer in a field of nails. It was, however, his decision to play dumb about the attacker’s motives that was even more disconcerting. It is behavior like that which is at the root of a populist backlash today.

“I think it’s very hard to untangle the motives of this shooter,” the president told reporters...

The Dallas gunman, Micah Xavier Johnson, wasn’t vague about what inspired his murderous rampage. “The suspect said he was upset at white people,” said Dallas chief of police David Brown. “The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.” You don’t get much more cut and dried than that.

So why has the president decided to be deliberately obtuse when it comes to Johnson’s motives?

...When he took office, broad majorities thought that the president’s election and his talent for oration signaled a new era of racial comity was upon us. It was Obama’s habit of weighing in imprudently on racial controversies and running a reelection campaign that indulged the premise that opposition to his administration was rooted in racism combined to squander this opportunity.

It is often the case that, when Obama has something to lose politically, he discovers circumspection and nuance. That habit is evident in his bizarre refusal to call ISIS “ISIS.”