If it is true that the best defense is a good offense, President Obama should be celebrating in the end zone now. Obviously furious over criticism that his anti-terror policies are weak and that the Orlando slaughter proves it, he went on a televised tirade to let America know he’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
He laid waste to a field of straw men, cable-TV pundits and the always-evil “partisan rhetoric,” by which he means anyone who disagrees with him. It was a striking display of personal anger and pent-up grievances — and a total failure of leadership during a national crisis.
It also, inadvertently, captured why Donald Trump was able to brawl his way to the GOP nomination. All his nice Republican rivals couldn’t stir voters because they never knew how to rattle Obama the way Trump is doing. The president didn’t mention Trump yesterday, but the whole speech was nothing but a desperate and incoherent reaction to Trumpism.
As such, it was a huge moment in the general-election campaign, even though it comes before the nominees are formally crowned. For one thing, it showed that Obama’s plan to campaign against Trump as if he is running for his own third term won’t be a cakewalk for the president or his legacy.
For another, the Obama-Trump war means Hillary Clinton could be overshadowed in what was supposed to be her campaign for vindication. Throw in her husband and the stage is going to get crowded with alpha males competing for attention.
Obama’s demeanor and tone were far from presidential — tantrums rarely are. Nor was he effective in rallying the nation to his cause. No surprise there. His cause is himself, always and only, and his greatly diminished historic presidency looks especially insignificant next to the bloodshed in Orlando. The iconic redeemer who promised hope and change never seemed so small and hopeless.
America saw Barack Obama at low tide yesterday, revealed as brimming with fury and bankrupt of ideas and even sympathy for the dead. The man who had an answer for everything and a solution to nothing is now also out of excuses.