In the Arena


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Just in time for Independence Day, we have Dorothy Rabinowitz pretty much calling the President of the United States unpatriotic:

Those qualities to be expected in a president were never about rhetoric; Mr. Obama had proved himself a dab hand at that on the campaign trail. They were a matter of identification with the nation and to all that binds its people together in pride and allegiance. These are feelings held deep in American hearts, unvoiced mostly, but unmistakably there and not only on the Fourth of July.

A great part of America now understands that this president’s sense of identification lies elsewhere, and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class. He is the alien in the White House, a matter having nothing to do with delusions about his birthplace cherished by the demented fringe.

Let’s leave aside the outrageous use of the word alien, even with the caveat appended. What’s Rabinowitz’s beef? Well, it’s that the Administration shies away from terms like “War on Terror”and “Islamic radicalism.” This, I agree, is awkward and a several notches too politically correct for my taste. We are in a long-term struggle against a sliver of Islamic radicals, some of them now home-grown, who fight us using the most obscene violence against innocents imaginable. We need to capture or destroy as many of them as we can.

Reading Rabinowitz, you wouldn’t think we were doing that. We are. Obama is. We are waging savage war–nightly attacks, I am told–on the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan (a process that might yield some success on the ground if the Karzai government weren’t so titanically dreadful and corrupt). Afghanistan has been called Obama’s war; it certainly wasn’t George W. Bush’s, who left the job unfinished to fight a war of choice in Iraq. We are also mounting regular Predator attacks that are decimating the leadership of Al Qaeda on the Af/Pak border, and chasing down–and killing–Al Qaeda operators in Somalia and Yemen. This effort has been made more effective by the enhanced human intelligence capabilities ordered by George W. Bush, but it has taken place on Obama’s watch, at his behest. Most military and intelligence people I talk to say that it has been quite successful.

But Rabinowitz smears Obama’s patriotism. How fatuous and inaccurate and crude…And that’s the way it is, on today’s Wall Street Journal op-ed page.