Discussing President Obama’s Tuesday Iraq speech on Fox News Sunday’s morning panel, “fair and balanced” moderator Chris Wallace cited Obama’s discussion of the economy in order to ask the panelists, “Is it unfair to say that this a president whose heart doesn’t seem to be into winning the war on terror”:
WALLACE: In that speech, to say “my central mission is to restore the economy,” is it unfair to say that this a president whose heart doesn’t seem to be into winning the war on terror, no matter what it costs?
STEPHEN HAYES, WEEKLY STANDARD: No, I don’t think that’s at all unfair, and the reason you can say that is if you look back at his inaugural address, the key paragraph is the paragraph in which he describes what he called “the crisis now well understood.” In that paragraph he mentions, in one sentence, the war on terror, and then he goes on and gives a litany of economic, domestic policy problems. He talks about schools, he talks about health care, he talks about job losses, he talks about homes. This is how the president thinks, so to a certain extent there’s no question that this is driven by polls, by the potential that people are perceiving him as focused on Afghanistan or he’s talking too much about other things, not the economy. He wanted to talk about the economy. But more fundamentally, this is how the president thinks, for better or worse.
Even leaving aside why anyone should treat a discredited Saddam-Al Qaeda conspiracy theorist like Hayes as credible on anything, this is pretty pathetic. Hayes cites a stage-setting passage from the top of Obama’s inaugural address in order to argue that Obama doesn’t care about national security, ignoring that Obama later spent five full paragraphs of that speech solely on national security.
While it’s true that Obama has a number of challenges on his plate, many resulting from the staggering incompetence of his predecessor, there’s simply no reality-based argument that President Obama hasn’t been completely engaged on national security. In contrast to the Bush administration, which needlessly and disastrously conflated and confused who the real threat was, since taking office, Obama has relentlessly focused on al Qaeda and significantly intensified U.S. efforts to find, frustrate and destroy al Qaeda’s terrorist infrastructure. But for Fox News, nothing will ever be enough.
The larger issue, however, is Obama’s correct understanding of the importance of the relationship between America’s domestic economic security and our national security. What conservatives like Hayes and Wallace apparently don’t get is that without a strong economy, America’s ability to project power and achieve its international goals is seriously diminished. America’s economic health isn’t peripheral to America’s national security, it’s central to it.