In searching for the right words to describe my reaction to President Obama’s feckless decision to be absent in Paris while world leaders gathered to mourn the dead, and to defy the terrorists who killed them, I admit I am struggling.
I have read their excuses. Heard Secretary of State Kerry accusing those who have criticized the Administration as “quibbling” over their outrage.
And, finally, read the shoulder shrug acknowledgement of the President’s spokesman admitting that it was “…fair to say we should have sent someone with a higher profile” to be in France.
That someone with a higher profile has a name and a title: President Barack Obama.
Since the beginning, this President and his Administration have willfully and arrogantly denied the true extent and depth of the terror threat that faces America – and our allies.
They have patted themselves on the back for killing Osama Bin Laden – chided those that called out the danger of the terror state that has now become ISIS – and tried to convince America that ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan was evidence that the battle on terror had terrorists on the run.
George Bush was roundly criticized for appearing on an aircraft carrier to praise American soldiers who had had successfully toppled the Hussein regime while in the background a banner blared “Mission Accomplished”.
But that one day in May in 2003 for the Bush Administration has been one day after another in the Obama Administration when it comes to the global war on terror.
Perhaps unspoken, but no less fervently embraced, a belief that “Mission Accomplished” began soon after the President was inaugurated.
The very phrase “global war on terror” was eliminated from the lexicon describing the war that America was engaged in across the globe.
It became more pronounced after U.S. Special Forces tracked down and killed Osama Bin Laden.
Could it be that this President felt his necessary presence in France – with world leaders who denounced the terror attacks in that country – was a tacit admission that the mission truly is not accomplished?
What rational though could have convinced the President – the Vice President – the President’s Chief of Staff – his National Security Advisor – Secretary of State – even lowliest of White House staff – that sending nobody of significance to France to stand in unison and one voice with other leaders of the world was beneath them?
Who benefitted from this brutal disregard of the implications for our allies – and for our own country?
Was it not enough that a major terrorist attack against one of America’s most consistent – if not difficult – allies – one of the worst in half a century – was enough reason for the President to get on a plane and fly to be with them and their people?
Was this attack not big enough? Brutal enough? Did not enough people die?
What is the measuring stick the President will use to elevate the level of alarm he and his Administration will use to determine when they will admit that terrorists are on the march?
The attacks against Charlie Hebdo and the kosher Jewish grocery that resulted in the slaughter of innocents who were engaged in nothing more than living their life – practicing their trade – plying their craft – was an attack on Jews – and free speech – democracy and all of the people of France.
As surely as the attacks of 9/11 were an assault against our most deeply rooted values and beliefs, the attacks in Paris, France were a violation of the rights of all people to live free of fear, oppression and terror.
It was an attack against freedom. Democracy. Liberty.
And, ultimately, it was an attack against everything we believe as Americans.
Time and time again I keep coming back to the reality that the most powerful nation on Earth – the symbol for freedom and democracy – the stalwart force for good in a world increasingly threatened by evil – had no voice among the millions of voices who came together in France to fight back against terror.
There was no beacon of American values to shine brightly upon the mourning masses – assuring them that we are in the fight now – and to the bitter end of the reign of terror in a troubled world.
In my introspection I keep trying to put my finger on what it is that has me so discomfited by the behavior of the President.
It is in the darkest moments of those thoughts, beset by the knowledge that the global war on terror will not end in my lifetime, but God willing, in the lifetime of my own children, I realize what has deepened my grief at the events in France.
It is not disappointment, anger or despair in the President and his choice to stay at home while our allies engaged in defiant grief. It is not outrage or even umbrage.
In the end it’s more base. Deeper rooted. More troubling.
It is heartbreak.