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December 09, 2015


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I watched the President's speech Sunday night, because I wanted to see it for myself and not be subjected to how both CNN and Fox News would interpret it. I had the impression that he simply didn't want to be giving it, that he was told by his advisors he had to and it was something he just had to get through. The one thing that was jarring was his use of "ISIL," when everyone else says "ISIS" or "IS." He made sure that people listening knew he was saying "ISIL" and not "ISIS" and he said it over and over again.

Yep, I had just the same feeling, Glynn. Third Oval Office address in seven years, and we get ... this?

As I'm sure you know, the president uses ISIL vs. ISIS for the same very good reason you don't say North Dakota when you mean the Dakotas. The distinction seems academic and pedantic to some of us ... but it wouldn't grate on the nerves if the president didn't seem so academic and pedantic on this matter himself.

I greatly admire President Obama's calm, and his unflappable long-term vision and refusal to wrestle with pigs (because you both get muddy and the pig likes it).

But when people are scared, it's not enough to say you're going about things in a systematic way that will eliminate the threat in 20 years. If you're going to say a thing like that because it's undeniably and unavoidably true, you at least have to show up with, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Or at the very least, a "Yes we can."

My man isn't showing up with that on this issue, and it's disappointing.

I think the theme of his speech should have been "protection." And it should have been in two parts.

First, on the domestic front, he should have made an even stronger plea for gun legislation and ask citizens to organize and mobilize so they can put pressure on the do-and-know-nothing Congress to take meaningful action so we can ALL BE PROTECTED.

Second, on the international front, he should have made an even stronger plea to broaden and deepen the coalition against Daesh, and ask foreign citizens to organize and mobilize so they can put pressure on their do-and-know-nothing governments to take meaningful action so we can ALL BE PROTECTED (including Muslims).

Our citizenry is on edge, operating out of lizard-brain instincts for survival. The last thing they want is a completely dispassionate and professorial tutorial on how much we've already done and will continue to do. They want to be PROTECTED. Metaphorically speaking, our citizens have a gun pointed at them and the president is saying, "Don't worry, all will be fine." When what they really want is for the president to throw himself in front of them, take the gunman down, and make sure no one else can come with a gun to take them down.

I thought that he, the parent of two children, could've taken the authentic passion he must feel for protecting his own children and projected it onto our citizenry. They wanted it. And they needed it.

Perhaps the president is playing a larger, more strategic game that I can't comprehend. I certainly hope so. Because lizard brains everywhere are saying, "Must. Seek. Shelter." But they really want to be saying, "Bud. Wei. Ser."

Rod, to this righteous analysis, I'd add only one point: Once assured that everything is being done to protect them, Americans must also be asked to show courage.

A lot of foolishness has been committed under the false promise to "keep Americans safe," a phrase President Bush and Chaney and all those guys used a lot, in a hundred different forms.

The phrase is at least two lies in one. "Keep," pretends we're safe now. "Safe" is an absolute term, and that's bullshit too. And it encourages the kind of government-as-mommy and citizens-as-babies nonsense that Republicans are supposed to hate.

American citizens deserve leaders who enlist us as partners in keeping America safe, not as quivering children expecting Donald Trump or anybody else to bomb all the world's danger and problems away.

If I were President Obama, those would be the lines I'd be thinking along. But he wasted a big chance Sunday night, and I'm not sure when or if his next play will be staged.

Agree with all, David.

Hopefully we're not too apathetic to rise to an "ask not" challenge if it's presented to us. But first it has to be presented.

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