The media broadly praised President Obama's sixth State of the Union address last night as a "confident" and "ambitious" speech. But even his traditional allies in the press could not ignore the fact that it was a confident speech completely disconnected from the real world.
Here is NBC's Andrea Mitchell, the network's senior foreign policy correspondent, on last night's speech
: "I think that on foreign policy, his projection of success against terrorism and against ISIS, in particular, as I said, is not close to reality."
Chris Matthews, the adoring Obama supporter who once said Mr. Obama's charisma made him feel "this thrill going up my leg," commented
after last night's speech, "I keep thinking tonight that there is a world out there that he didn't really talk about." That's putting it gently.
Richard Engel, NBC's chief foreign correspondent, delivered the most devastating analysis of the President's claims:
"It seems that the rose-colored glasses through which [President Obama] was viewing the foreign policy were so rose-colored that they don't even reflect the world that we're living in ... ISIS is doing very well, and the strategy is completely disjointed ... To sell that as a success, I think was missing the point, maybe even disingenuous."
"It sounded like the President was outlining a world that he wishes we were all living in but is very different from the world [described in the news], with terror raids taking place across Europe, with ISIS very much on the move. One thing the President said was that 'American leadership, including our military power, is stopping ISIL's advance.' That just isn't the case..."
"He talked about building support for the moderate Syrian opposition. That effectively isn't happening. There is no real support for the moderate Syrian opposition. In fact, one military official told me that they are calling the moderate Syrian opposition the 'unicorn' because they have not been able to find it.
So there was a general tone, maybe even suspended disbelief, I think when he started talking about foreign policy. There's not a lot of success stories to be talking about in foreign policy right now."
Even senior members of the President's own party have been unable to stomach some of the President's claims. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, this morning described the President's quotes on Iran as "sound[ing] like talking points that come straight out of Tehran."
What was striking about President Obama's speech was his inability to describe radical Islamism as a movement.
He continues to focus on geography instead of ideology. He refers only to "violent extremism."
He continues to bounce from terror group to terror group as though they're distinct threats. The current conversation is about ISIL (or ISIS) in Northern Syria and Iraq.
The President failed to mention Boko Haram, however, which last year killed more people in Nigeria (10,000) than Ebola did in all of Africa (8,000). To her credit, Senator Joni Ernst, in a very short reaction speech, did mention Nigeria as a trouble spot.
Ironically, the front pages of today's newspapers report the State of the Union on one side and the battle in the capital of Yemen on the other side. Yemen is a country President Obama had cited as a model of how we are making progress against "violent extremists."
Today the Yemeni president "cannot leave his house," according to the Associated Press, because Islamist rebels are holding him "captive" in his home. The country got no mention last night.
The state of the union, on national security matters at least, is a disaster. A president who tries to hide from the threats we face — or worse, to construct his own world in which they don't exist — is making the planet a much more dangerous place. One with "confidence" disconnected from reality isn't showing leadership. He's showing pure foolishness.
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