However, Steve M documents that the wingnuts still consider President Obama to be a wuss in spite of the successful rescue of Captain Phillips. One would think the results of the earlier French commando raid — one hostage was killed — might have taught them that sometimes there’s a place for caution.
Another take on the successful mission is that President Obama had nothing to do with it, even though he had given two orders authorizing the use of force. That’s because the rescue did not come about because of a daring commando raid planned and orchestrated in the White House but because the officer in charge at the scene ordered snipers to fire and kill three pirates (as the White House had authorized him to do).
So a President is supposed to defer to the wisdom of “commanders on the ground” in Iraq. However, authorizing commanders on the sea off the Somali coast to use their own judgment based on unfolding events and standing military procedure is just wrong. The POTUS is supposed to put on tights and a cape, fly to the scene, and rescue the hostage personally. Or he’s a wuss.
Y’know, there’s point at which people stop being alarming and are just pathetic. See also John Cole.
Update: See also “The Great Right-Wing Freak-out” by Juan Cole.
Radio personality Rush Limbaugh challenged the president, saying that if we are not at war with Islam then the Somali pirates must not be Muslims. Perhaps, the rotund one suggested with his world-famed gift for subtle wit, the Somalis are actually Orthodox Jews. But Obama had explicitly said that the U.S. is at war with some Muslims, to wit, al-Qaida, and had merely exempted the broad religion of Islam as an object of enmity. When the U.S. went to war against the Serbians over Kosovo, it was presumably not involved in a war on Christianity, even though the Serbs are Eastern Orthodox Christians. Moreover, Islamic law forbids piracy, so the Somalis are not acting out of religious motives. The fevered irrationality of such diatribes, on the part of someone recognized as the leading voice of the contemporary Republican Party, points to the party’s dire intellectual straits.
Update: Paul Krugman makes the point that wingnuts really are no crazier now than they’ve ever been (Vince Foster, anyone?). He adds,
Last but not least: it turns out that the tea parties donâ€™t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. Theyâ€™re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News.
Righties are having a fit about this, because they desperately want to believe that the “tea parties” are a grassroot phenomenon that sprang spontaneously from the soil of the Heartland. Most “tea parties” probably are being organized and funded locally, but only because the Powers That Be in the GOP People’s Central Planning Political Grassroots Organizing Committee put out the word to organize them.
What Freedomworks and various other organizations are doing is not “astroturf” any more than the anti-war protests of some years back were astroturf because ANSWER and Moveon.org helped organize people around those events. Astroturfing is paid activism by an organization; it is not genuine grassroots activism that funded groups are simply helping to organize.
But the rightie is not defining “astroturfing” properly. As Matt Yglesias says, “An astroturf operation is a fake grassroots operation.” Real grassroots organizing begins at a local and regional level and often has to fight for recognition by the national establishment. The “tea parties” clearly were the idea of a few people in the Washington political/media world, who used national right-wing media infrastructure to promote them.
Update: One more thing — I agree with John Cole that the pirate episode really didn’t rise to being much of a test of President Obama as Commander in Chief. No doubt military advisers told him what the options were, and he signed off on one or more of those options, and after that it was all in the hands of the people at the scene. That would be true of any President. George Washington himself could have done no more.
The only really stupid thing Obama could have done is countermand the experts, and order them to either do nothing at all or do something they thought unwise, but apparently he didn’t do that.
However, the Right chose to blow up the pirate incident into a “test” of Obama on the order of the Tehran Hostage Crisis, which it never was. But once he “passed” their “test,” they had to trip all over themselves changing the test rules so that they could still give him an F. A hoot.