Fitted in his best summer suit, President Obama stepped up to the podium on Thursday and offered a simple message about the United States’ strategy in dealing with ISIS: We don’t have one. Additionally, when pressed by reporters on whether he would seek congressional authorization before beginning airstrikes in Syria, Obama said he hasn’t gotten that far yet.
“We don’t have a strategy yet,” the President said. “I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are. And I think that’s not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military, as well. We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them.”
While the media coverage of the presser has largely focused on the President’s bizarre wardrobe choice, on radio this morning, KFMB’s Mike Slater filled in for Glenn and focused on the substance – or lack there of. Mike went all the way back to World War II to draw a comparison between Obama’s leadership style and the iconic words of General George Patton.
While in England training the Third Army in preparation for the invasion of Normandy, Patton sent a letter to his son, who was studying at West Point. In the letter he wrote:
All men are timid on entering any fight. Whether it is the first or the last fight, all of us are timid. Cowards are those who let their timidity get the better of their manhood.
As Mike explained, Patton proceeded to tell the story of a man named Marshall Touraine, who fought under Louis XIV. While mounting a horse in one of the last battles he ever fought in, Touraine was approached by an aide who noticed something about the man.
“A man came over… and he said, ‘Monsieur, it amazing me that a man of your supposed courage should permit his knees to tremble as he walks out to mount,’” Mike explained. “And Touraine responds to this aide… ‘I admit my knees do tremble, but should they know where I shall this day take them, they would shake even more.’ He got on his horse and rode off to battle.”
In reference to that story, Patton wrote to his son: “Your knees may shake but they will always take you towards the enemy.”
“If I may, I think our president has shaky knees,” Mike said. “He's hesitant. It is that hesitancy, that lack of conviction, that's what makes us weak.”
While Mike was clear that he is not a war hawk, he was equally clear that once we choose to fight a war, we must win it.
“We haven't decided to do that as a country for a long time - win, that is,” Mike said. “We haven't decided to win. Then what emerges from that vacuum that we have created is the worst of the worst. People like ISIS emerge.”
Ultimately, when it comes to this President, Mike believes there is no strategy because there is no principle.
“Are we supposed to be surprised the president has no strategy for ISIS? The reason he doesn't is because he has no principles,” Mike said. “What is the proper principle when it comes to war? It is simple. I know people will say it's way too simplistic… [but] I think I have a very simple principle here that I think needs to be said on national radio across the entire country, and that is: Win.”
“This ‘community organizer in chief’ has weak knees, as Patton would say,” he continued. “In the end, all it does is make us everybody weaker. This is what it means to be a paper tiger… [but] it doesn't have to be this way. Principle one: Fight a war to win or don't fight.”
Front page image courtesy of the AP