Earlier this week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) laid down a marker: if President Obama “does not go on the offensive” against ISIS, Americans should blame the president in the event of a domestic attack. Yesterday, the Republican senator was a little more specific about his expectations.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) late Thursday accused President Obama of ignoring the threat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an extremist group, poses to the U.S. homeland.“I’m disappointed in the commander in chief for not addressing the threat that [ISIS] presents to the United States,” said Graham on Fox News’s “On the Record.” “Not leveling with the American people that the threat we face is not just in Iraq and Syria, but these people intend to attack us here at home and he has no strategy to deal with that.“That’s what the intelligence community is telling me and every other member of Congress,” he continued. “These people intend to hit us here.”
Now, when Graham says he’s “disappointed” that Obama hasn’t “addressed” the ISIS threat, he doesn’t mean as a matter of national-security. It’s not as if the intelligence community has tried to warn the president, only to be dismissed with indifference and a casual “You’ve covered your ass, now.”
Rather, the South Carolina lawmaker is being more literal: he wants Obama to address the issue by telling the public that ISIS is a bunch of terrorists that would like to kill Americans. In other words, Lindsey Graham is “disappointed” that the president hasn’t scared the bejesus out of Americans.
And why, pray tell, does Graham want that? Only he can say for sure, of course, but it appears that the senator wants the U.S. to engage militarily in Syria and Iraq, and if Obama tells the public, “ISIS wants to kill us,” then maybe Americans will support more war in the Middle East.
But Graham’s complaints suffer from a few basic flaws.
First, the president already has gone “on the offensive” against ISIS. Second, Obama has also “addressed” the threats posed by ISIS publicly.
But even putting that aside, I’m trying to imagine exactly what Graham would have the president say. It would apparently go something like this: “By the way, ISIS terrorists want to kill Americans. There’s no imminent threat; we don’t have any actionable intelligence; and I’m not instructing the public to take any specific actions, but I thought I’d mention it. You know, just FYI.”
The point isn’t that ISIS is some meaningless foe. As Michael Isikoff noted today, the threat is real.
But whining about presidential fear mongering – or in this case, the lack thereof – seems misplaced.