It turns out that Mr. Obama can be surprisingly bipartisan. He’s doing everything he can to make Donald Trump the next president.
What other possible explanation could there be for his thoughtless, meaningless interview at the ball game in Cuba? Sitting next to his new pal, Raul, the sun glaring into his impenetrable shades, sleeves rolled to his elbows, he noted that terrorism is a bad thing, but that we (that is, he) shouldn’t let it interfere with our lives, because that means the terrorists are winning.
Go to the game and continue your trip if you must, Mr. President, but at least stand up, step aside, and make a serious, thoughtful statement when the world is focused on the tragedy in Belgium.
Imagine, if you can, Tony Blair after 9/11, sitting at a steeplechase somewhere in the English countryside, commenting: “Oh, those Yanks, they can’t let a little thing like this get them down.”
Here’s a news flash, Mr. President: If the terrorists aren’t winning, they’re putting on a very good act. While you were enjoying baseball in sunny Cuba, Belgians were scraping body parts off the walls of the Brussels airport. Oh, well. Don’t react forcefully. Just have a nice chat with the ESPN reporter on duty.
If Obama is concerned about his legacy, perhaps, instead of restoring relations with Cuba, he might spend some time restoring them with Europe.
He might also think about restoring them with Hillary, who is trying to sound hard-nosed about dealing with ISIS while simultaneously covering the president’s rear.
Meanwhile, he has driven fed-up right-leaning voters further into the camps of Messrs. Trump and Cruz, further increasing, if that is possible, national divisions already wider than those of any presidency since Lincoln’s, which is certainly not meant to equate the two men in any other way.
Does the president just not get it? Does he think his anti-terrorist patter is really an effective strategy, or is he just hoping he can make it to the golf course and rake in huge speaking fees before another shoe drops in our country?
Here’s the deal: Fighting terrorism is going to cost a lot of money and, unfortunately, some lives, mostly those of terrorists and, yes, some innocents.
Europe, in the face of its own obvious divisions, is finally going to have to get its act together. Belgium, for example, has dozens of police divisions, local and federal, and distinct Flemish and Walloon cultures with two principal languages and religions. None of this includes its unintegrated Muslim population.
This is Europe in microcosm. Europeans, already in financial trouble, are going to have to spend much more on intelligence gathering and military capacity, and they are going have to coordinate their efforts somehow.
Meanwhile, the United States cannot pull back. Like it or not, we are going have to lead the way and pay more than our share. We can’t withdraw into fortress America because there is no longer a fortress America. We are waging the ultimate example of asymmetric warfare. Our borders cannot be made impenetrable; all it takes is a few intruders to create havoc.
Nobody wants this. Tom Friedman recently described the world as being divided into two parts: organized and disorganized. He could just as easily said rich and poor, or sustainably populated and overpopulated.
This has dissolved into a situation that was unimaginable just a few years ago. But it is here, and the Western world must unite to defeat its deadly consequence: terrorism.
The president of the United States must prioritize his duties and obligations. Cuba is a sideshow.
Fred Wolferman lives in Southern Pines. Contact him by email at