No, it was only after a near-universal outcry by the American people that their president appeared oddly detached and aloof in the aftermath of the would-be attack that Mr. Obama swung into action. He boldly ordered his administration to investigate what took place and proclaimed that new security measures would immediately be put into place. When this failed to convince the public about his leadership to protect us from future attack, the president did what he did best during his first year in office to address an issue: He took to the airwaves and delivered another speech.
This time, what is revealing is what President Obama told us as well as what he didn't. First, he told us that "our nation is at war against a network of violence and hatred and that we will do whatever it takes to defeat them and defend our country, even as we uphold the values that have always distinguished America among nations." It seems to me those who have distorted the Islamic faith have been at war with us since at least 1979. Whether we recognized it at the time or not, certain elements have been at war with us for more than 30 years. America only responded to the threat directly and decisively after 3,000 innocent Americans lost their lives on Sept. 11.
Apparently willing to change the semantics of being involved in a war against terror lest they inherit any terminology used from the previous administration, Mr. Obama and his staff have been reluctant to use the terms "war" and "terror" in the same sentence (they do appear quite willing to complain they inherited a tough economy and wars abroad from George W. Bush, but not his success and actions taken to protect the country following Sept. 11). Fine. So if we're in a war and the president is willing to do whatever it takes to defend the country against future attack, why is the Christmas Day terrorist being read his Miranda rights and clamming up during interviews with authorities, rather than being transferred to the military and being interrogated as an enemy combatant?
The answer lies in the second part of the president's statement above — the clause where he notes that he will protect the country "even as we uphold the values that have always distinguished America among nations." That is the sniveling, condescending and elitist view held by many on the left: that we won't protect the country by doing anything that Bush and then-Vice President Dick Cheney did.
What will distinguish America among nations in the days to come will be the tacit acknowledgment that we will take every step necessary to protect our citizens both here and abroad using every means necessary. And if an individual who was trained by al Qaeda, obtained explosives from al Qaeda and secured passage on an American airliner to murder 300 American citizens above Detroit on Christmas Day isn't both an enemy combatant and a terrorist, then I don't know who would every qualify as such.
If we're truly at war, Mr. President, a war you now grudgingly recognize, then it's time to treat those enemy combatants in our custody as such while pursuing all means necessary to thwart future terrorist attacks. Actions speak louder than words.