When Elites Just Don’t Get It
You’ve got to hand it to Donald Trump: The man knows how to command attention. Earlier this week, just as the country sat on the verge of a real and meaningful discussion about the threat of international terrorism — BAM! Trump reentered the room.
Jaws dropped. Plates clattered to the ground. Ladies gasped. We were off to the races. Journalists were the proverbial golden retrievers; Trump, darting out of the corner, was the giant, man-sized, golden-capped squirrel, yelling in a crazed, man-sized squirrel voice about a “complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” chortling all the way.
Thus, for good or ill — let’s be honest, it’s probably ill — the debate has changed. Trump’s disastrous proposal was met with indignation from pretty much every reasonable corner of the political world. This included, interestingly, the same political corners that wildly applauded President Obama’s call to eliminate due process for certain Americans — namely, people placed on arbitrary government watch lists, which have included babies, veterans, reporters, and Department of Homeland employees — when it comes to buying guns.
But never mind; we’re not talking about that now. We’re talking about Donald Trump’s Islamophobia, of course. Several writers have wondered if The Donald is actually a secret operative for Hillary Clinton; in a recent piece for Commentary, Noah Rothman chronicled the many eerie ways in which Trump has managed to derail national conversations that might have been damaging to Democrats. Facing backlash from the GOP, meanwhile, Trump, helpful as always, has hinted at a quixotic — and likely Hillary-boosting — third party run.
This is all very unfortunate, because there are serious happenings unfolding around the world, paired with a bevy of not-so-serious responses being cooked up by the current powers that be in U.S. of A. As the national debate ratchets around like a crazed ping-pong ball — often maliciously spiked by Mr. Trump — the less we address the growing evidence that our government elites, including the person who is already president, just don’t get it.
What is “it”? Reality. On Sunday night, Obama’s terrorism speech served as Exhibit A. Looking one twitch away from an eye roll and like he would rather be anywhere else in the world, Obama did little to reassure the nation; instead, he lectured, and there were many in his audience whom he did not seem to like.
We will win, Obama argued, because we will keep doing mostly what we have been doing, and because we “are on the right side of history.” Just days after the massacre in San Bernardino — an attack by radical Islamists who proved that some of our security procedures might actually be on the wrong side of history — the president seemed mildly frustrated that anyone could view ISIS-inspired terrorism as a genuine threat. Obama seemed more concerned, in the end, about the scourge of awful and unsophisticated Americans conducting themselves unbecomingly on the global stage — and with touting the above-mentioned gun plan that disregards the basic rights of U.S. citizens.
This is the same president, of course, who stood in Paris — aris, of all places, where in mid-November, radical Islamic terrorists murdered 130 people—and said the following in response to Colorado’s late November Planned Parenthood shooting: “I say this every time we have one of these mass shootings. This just doesn’t happen in other countries.”
This also is the same president who called the Paris climate change conference a “powerful rebuke to the terrorists,” because it “shows that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children” by attempting to control the temperature of the earth.
Oh, and by the way: Iran also just test-fired a ballistic missile, even though the United Nations told them not to. It’s the darndest thing.
As information slowly spools out of San Bernardino, we’re seeing an increasing number of holes in a government that insists on blind trust and growing control. Meanwhile, America’s elites ratchet up the condescension level when they insist, like Hillary Clinton, that we cannot call radical Islamic terrorism by its name, lest we rile up unruly passions on either side of the aisle. “Radicalization” is the new hot term, a nicely generic and passive label that implies the road to terrorism is something that simply happens to you, like winning Dr. Evil’s lottery or getting pooped on by a pigeon.
It’s telling and appropriate that Angela Merkel just won Time magazine’s Person of the Year. In Germany, Merkel has morphed into the archetype of the out-of-touch government elite, the aloof bureaucrat who puts a preferred mission above the desires of the local rubes — and who is also completely clueless about the dangerous political dynamic she’s in the process of creating.
You can scoff at the threat of terrorism or tell Americans they’re more likely to die by lightning than in a terrorist attack. But you won’t be getting at the heart of their real concerns. It’s a worry that is exacerbated by a cohort of powerful government elites who not only obfuscate reality, but who can’t understand it when it smacks them in the face.
This article originally appeared at RealClearPolitics on December 10, 2015, and is reprinted with their permission.