Nine months ago, Barack Obama gave an interview to David Remnick of The New Yorker after ISIS, the very accomplished and high-achieving Islamic killing machine in the Middle East, captured Fallujah, an Iraqi city for which many very good American soldiers had sacrificed their lives and limbs taking from Sunni jihadists in 2004.
Remnick asked Obama about al-Qaida’s resurgence in Iraq. Obama responded by suggesting to Remnick that he had, pretty much, personally killed Osama bin Laden three years earlier and, pretty much, singlehandedly “decimated” al-Qaida.
Remnick pointed out to Obama that since he had ordered U.S. military forces to leave Iraq the al-Qaida flag was now flying over Fallujah. ISIS, regarded as an al-Qaida affiliate in Iraq, had since taken over the city.
As a sidebar, it’s worth pointing out that Obama often misuses the word “decimate” as a synonym for “destroy.” It is not. It specifically means taking a tenth or killing a tenth of an enemy as an example to others. He also sometimes uses the word “destroy” interchangeably with words like “degrade” that has a very different meaning, as he did when he used them both about the sudden discovery of his new ISIS strategy Sept. 3, suggesting he would both “destroy and degrade” ISIS – then later saying this planned destruction and degrading of ISIS would render the group a “manageable problem.” “Destroy” means demolish, annihilate. “Degrade,” in military terms, means to reduce the war-fighting capacity of an enemy. These are rookie linguistic mistakes that make for bad “strategies” that can easily be misinterpreted by those who must carry out orders pronounced inarticulately and without specificity.
It was at this point in the interview, Obama infamously provided Remnick with the following woefully inarticulate sports analogy: “Yes, but, David, I think the analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on a Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”
Nine months later, ISIS is perceived by U.S. intelligence, senior military officers and most conscious observers not as a nuisance, not as a localized, inexperienced rogue group, but as a grave threat to the balance of power and stability of the entire Middle East and a strategic threat to the security of the U.S. and the world.
Flash forward to a Sept. 7 interview Obama gave to Chuck Todd of NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Obama was asked if that JV remark was the result of “bad intelligence or your misjudgment.”
“Keep – keep – keep in mind I wasn’t specifically referring to ISIL,” he stuttered. “I’ve said that, regionally, there were a whole series of organizations that were focused primarily locally. Weren’t focused on homeland, because I think a lot of us, when we think about terrorism, the model is Osama bin Laden and 9/11. And the point that I was …”
Todd: “You don’t believe these people …”
Obama: “Not yet. But they – they can evolve. And I was very specific at that time. What I said was, not every regional terrorist organization is automatically a threat to us that would call for a major offensive. Our goal should not be to think that we can occupy every country where there’s a terrorist organization.”
He went on to suggest he “wasn’t specifically referring” to ISIS in the previous interview with The New Yorker. But he clearly was. It was ISIS that captured Fallujah. Everyone knew that. The transcript of that original interview shows Remnick even mentioned ISIS.
One must wonder at this point whether Obama and his team can ever just simply admit a mistake. Are they capable of simply saying they misjudged a situation or underestimated a threat? Why does Obama feel compelled to revise what he actually said previously when the record is crystal clear? Why does he feel it necessary to feign infallibility? And why does he seem to believe he can get away with it – even in the big-league spotlight of the presidency?
I think I know the answer.
Junior varsity sports teams are those where younger athletes have an opportunity to hone their skills and earn a chance to play on the varsity team someday.
Michael Jordan famously cried as a sophomore at Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina, when he didn’t make the varsity basketball team. He would go on to revolutionize the game as an NBA superstar.
It seems that experience may have propelled Jordan to work harder, to distinguish himself as a player. It’s the reason we have JV teams, Little League, minor league teams in professional sports, junior high schools leading to high schools, professional internships and other institutions that prepare young men and women for greater achievement through actual experience.
Most young athletes must play on JV teams before they make the varsity. Most people must pay their dues through a process of preparation before they are elevated to positions of real achievement and responsibility in life. Obama is something of an exception to this rule.
He never ran a business.
He never held an executive position in government before being elevated to the presidency.
He never served in the military.
He had no foreign policy experience, save for four years as a U.S. senator.
He was simply a politician in the right place at the right time facing the wrong competition.
In fact, the biggest thing he ever directed before moving to the White House was his 2008 campaign. He was qualified for that position because he has been “campaigning” throughout his life. He played on the JV teams of campaigning with ACORN and running for legislative offices in Illinois. That was his preparation for becoming president – sadly his only preparation.
And that’s why Barack Obama’s administration is the real JV team – even after nearly six years in power.
Let us hope and pray on this Sept. 11, 2014, America never again makes a mistake as it did in 2008 and 2012 by rewarding the office of the presidency to someone who is so far, far over his or her head for the challenges he or she will inevitably face.
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