“Let’s not, but let’s say that we did.”

Rusty Shackleford is spitting bullets about the fact that the Taliban have kidnapped Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl and are parading him for propaganda purposes. Although it’s easy to get all tangled up about international law and whether the Geneva Convention should extend to these people, Dr. Shackleford gets to the core point, which is the fact that America’s enemies have an American — and we should do something about it, dammit!

As for me, I hope that the Obama administration doesn’t take its default position and fall back on words as the primary way to deal with the situation. Both Daniel Henninger and James Taranto opined on Obama’s continued belief that the thought equals the deed. Here’s Henninger:

Here’s the problem: Mr. Obama is not the nation’s Speaker in Chief. He’s not a senator, and he’s no longer a candidate. He’s the president. A president’s major speeches are different than those of anyone else. That high office imposes demands beyond the power of a podium. Inspiration matters, but the office also requires acts of leadership. A U.S. president’s words must be connected to something beyond sentiment and eloquence. Too much of the time, Barack Obama’s big speeches don’t seem to be connected to anything other than his own interesting thoughts on some subject.

And here’s Taranto giving the perfect example of this practice in play:

On his trip to Ghana last weekend, President Obama delivered a well-received speech. He also gave an interview to CNN, in which he discussed slavery and its legacy, as the network is reporting today:

On his trip in Ghana, Obama said the nation and the world should never forget the scourge of slavery because it’s still relevant in today’s world.

I think that the experience of slavery is like the experience of the Holocaust. I think it’s one of those things you don’t forget about. I think it is important that the way we think about it and the way it’s taught is not one in which there’s simply a victim and a victimizer, and that’s the end of the story,” he said.

“I think the way it has to be thought about, the reason it’s relevant is because whether it’s what’s happening in Darfur or what’s happening in the Congo or what’s happening in too many places around the world–you know, the capacity for cruelty still exists.”

“So trying to use these kinds of extraordinary moments to widen the lens and make sure that we’re all reflecting on how we are treating each other, I think, is something I want my kids to think about and I want every child to think about.”

This whole comment underscores one of the things that bothers us most about Obama. He says that slavery is “relevant” to today’s humanitarian crises in places like Darfur and Congo. For the sake of argument, let’s accept that this is true. What are we supposed to do?

Well, we’re supposed to “never forget” slavery, to “think about it,” to improve “the way it’s taught,” to “widen the lens,” to “make sure we’re all reflecting.” Oh, and he wants “every child to think about” it.

By Obama’s lights, then, it would seem that understanding slavery is important because it yields an endless supply of endless abstractions with which to respond ineffectually to contemporary humanitarian crises. While every child is thinking about this stuff, is the president of the United States doing anything?

We need to believe that the military can push Obama into acting, not just talking. It’s impossible to govern a nation by falling back on a teenager’s snarky comeback to the effect that “Let’s not, but let’s say that we did.”

UPDATE: I used Bowe Bergdahl as the springboard to riff about Obama’s reliance on words, not deeds, despite the fact that he holds the nation’s chief executive position. I stand by what I said about Obama (and am thinking that perhaps we should be grateful that he’s not acting on everything he talks about), but the Bergdahl thing might prove to be more complicated.

Michelle Malkin posts at length about hints that Bergdahl may not just be a POW, but may be a complicit deserter. Given the current factual vacuum, now is probably the time to withhold all judgment one way or another. I’ll be interested as more news comes out.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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