President Barack Obama gave an interview to Vox today in which he pushed the big red button of conservative rage: downplaying the relatively rare threat of terrorism and highlighting the dire and wide-ranging consequences of global climate change.
In the second part of the Vox interview, which dealt with foreign policy, Vox’s Matthew Yglesias asked the president whether the media exaggerated immediate threats like terrorism and international strife to the detriment of coverage of longer-term problems.
Obama agreed, saying, “The problems of terrorism and dysfunction and chaos, along with plane crashes and a few other things, that’s the equivalent [of local news crime stories] when it comes to covering international affairs.”
“Climate change,” Obama added, “is one [story] that is happening at such a broad scale and at such a complex system, it’s a hard story for the media to tell on a day-to-day basis.”
Conservatives would have been angry enough with the president if he had stopped there. But Obama went further. While he acknowledged the need to fight terror—”my first job is to protect the American people”—he did so in a way that likened counterterrorism to local crime-fighting.
After mentioning the recent terror attacks in Paris, Obama said, “It is right and appropriate for us to be vigilant and aggressive in trying to deal with that—the same way a big city mayor’s got to cut the crime rate down if he wants that city to thrive.”
This was like the nuclear bomb of not caring about Islamic extremists building a nuclear bomb.
The Washington Free Beacon, which snipped this segment and uploaded it to YouTube, ran the story with the headline “Obama Downplays Terror: If ‘Folks in a Deli’ Are Shot, We Should ‘Cut Crime Rate’ like a Mayor.”
Needless to say, conservatives see the Global War on Terror, as President Bush so audaciously termed it, in a strikingly different light. Mayors fight looters, along with the occasional bank robber. America, the shining city on the hill, faces an existential threat to its values. How dare the president compare the security mentalities of the two tasks?
The unbylined Free Beacon story has no comments section, but judging by the right’s reaction to all of President Obama’s remarks on terrorism, the Twitter discussion of this Vox interview should go something like this:
It is and has been explicit Obama administration policy to downplay, whitewash, ignore the Islamic supremacist threat http://t.co/3jlUG9fIwB— Benjamin Weingarten (@bhweingarten) August 29, 2014
Screengrab via Washington Free Beacon/YouTube