It was clear last night that the right wasn’t pleased with President Obama’s Oval Office address on terrorism, but a Fox News analyst took Republican satisfaction to a noteworthy level this morning.
“Look, Mr. President, we’re not afraid, we’re angry, we’re pissed off, we’re furious! We want you to react, we want you to do something!” retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters said on Fox Business’s “Varney & Co.”“You’re afraid!” Peters continued. “I mean, this guy is such a total p***y, it’s stunning.”
If Peters’ name sounds familiar, it may be because the Washington Times writer is known for celebrating Russia’s Vladimir Putin as the kind of leader Peters finds impressive.
After the Republican pundit’s on-air tantrum this morning, some were taken aback by Peters’ crude, not-safe-for-work language, which even drew a brief rebuke from Fox host Stuart Varney. And to be sure, the criticism is fair – adults should be able to make substantive arguments on national television about national security without sounding like they’re in a junior-high locker room.
But perhaps more important is the fact that Ralph Peters doesn’t appear to have any idea what he’s talking about.
Shortly after the conservative’s outburst about the need for the president “to do something,” the Obama administration confirmed “the death of the Islamic State’s senior leader in Libya, known as Abu Nabil, who was targeted in a Nov. 13 U.S. air strike carried out by F-15 aircraft on a compound in the city of Derna.”
And shortly after that, the Obama administration said a U.S. military strike also killed a senior leader of al-Shabaab in Somalia last week.
These strikes come on the heels of U.S. forces taking out the al Qaeda operative “in charge of suicide bombings and operations involving explosives,” which followed U.S. forces also killing the top official in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Finding Osama bin Laden’s successor in al Qaeda has been made difficult because President Obama has ordered strikes that have taken out “seven potential candidates” slated to lead the terrorist network.
I’m reminded again of this piece in The Atlantic from last fall, in which Jeffrey Goldberg, hardly a liberal, wrote, “Obama has become the greatest terrorist hunter in the history of the presidency.”
And yet, lazy Republicans still run around whining that the president is “a total p***y,” not because it’s true, but because it seems to make the right feel better about itself.
As we discussed in June, Obama’s lengthy list of counter-terrorism successes is a detail his far-right critics simply don’t know what to do with, so they ignore it and pretend the president is indifferent to matters of national security, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
They find it vastly easier to believe Obama doesn’t agree with them on word-choice, which is vastly more important in their minds than an actual counter-terrorism policy.
There is, of course, an entirely different side of the debate. Yes, Republican rhetoric is divorced from reality. Yes, Obama has successfully targeted a wide variety of prominent terrorist leaders. But there are all kinds of related questions that often go overlooked: do U.S. strikes deter or prevent future terrorist threats? Is the U.S. policy entirely consistent with the law? What are the implications of a policy reliant on drones? Should Americans expect the current national-security policy to remain in place indefinitely? What happens when one terrorist leader is killed, but he’s replaced by someone worse?
But the discourse usually doesn’t get to these questions because the usual suspects are preoccupied with questions about “toughness,” semantics, and whether or not the president thumps his chest enough.
In the meantime, Obama – the one we’re supposed to think is too “afraid” to effectively combat terrorists – keeps ordering strikes that kill terrorists. It’s tempting to think someone should let Republicans and their pundit allies know, but I get the sense the truth would only confuse them.
* Update: Fox suspended Peters this afternoon for his on-air comments.