Things with ISIS just keep going from worse to terrifying, but this weekend's news seems to have rattled even President Obama's most ardent supporters in the so-called liberal media. ISIS released a video of an affiliated group in Libya beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians on Sunday, to which Egypt responded with airstrikes, which in turn sparked another round of kidnappings. On the heels of their burning alive of a Jordanian pilot, ISIS appears bent on making as many people as they can rain down hellfire on them. but their latest atrocities have also succeeded in removing the thrill from up Chris Matthews' leg, and replacing it with a massive case of nationalistic performance anxiety.
During an interview with State Department Spokeswoman Melamie Harf, and then later in his "Let Me Finish" hot take segment, Matthews mewled about the United States being "morally humiliated" by ISIS, and wondered what, if anything, we we can do about it. Harf patiently explained that we are doing something about it, and even mentioned that we're killing a lot of ISIS fighters, a fact that you don't hear the Obama administration stress very often. She also needled Congress to approve the President's AUMF request, which would actually do nothing that isn't being done now. If nothing else, Harf gets the award for Quote of the Week so far, right at the end:
"War is never pleasant, Chris."
Matthews never really gives a name to the little blue pill that he thinks might cure his impotent rage, but fellow MSNBC-er and normally reliable Obama booster Ed Schultz wasn't shy. On his Monday night show, Schultz ran down the litany of ISIS atrocities, plus the shootings this weekend in Copenhagen, and kept wondering "why would we tell ISIS that there's no way we would ever put troops in in combat situations?"
"As I see it, the United States is going to have to have a continual reviewal of its strategy."
Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) then tried to talk some sense into Ed, telling him that "a new military venture, with tens of thousands of Americas with armor, is not going to solve this problem."
Ed was unmoved, and called for ground troops, maybe, using the "I'm not a..." gimmick that Republicans stole from Dr. McCoy:
"I would personally come to the conclusion as someone who is following the news is that what we're doing isn't strong enough, isn't working. Whether that means we need to put ground troops and get them involved, I don't know. I'm not a military expert."
Clearly not, as evidenced by the way he began his segment about how airstrikes are not enough:
"The response from the Egyptian government has been swift and strong. Egypt has launched a series of airstrikes against ISIS..."
Ed's expertise notwithstanding, even a cursory reviewal of the President's strategy would reveal that the President has never actually ruled out ground troops in combat situations, and has, in fact, consistently ruled them in. In fact, that AUMF that Garamendi and Harf think so highly of only limits the President if it really is the thought that counts, because you could drive 50,000 troops through the holes in the actual written proposal. The White House is going to do what it needs to do, and call it whatever it needs to be called.
What the President has done is project an overall strategy that does not include another endless ground war, which he hopes to avoid by getting Muslim countries to carry that load. So far, ISIS is doing a pretty good job of helping him. They are trying to draw more people into the fight. The surest way to keep that from happening, though, would be for President Obama to say "Well, if it comes to it, we'll use a ground force," because the neighboring countries would then make sure it came to it. ISIS wants its opponents to lose their shit and come flying blindly at them, fists akimbo, and that's just what Schultz and Matthews are doing.
What's worse, though, is that these guys are liberals. When Republicans do this, they're just filling out anti-Obama Mad Libs, but we're supposed to know better. Just as we shouldn't reflexively oppose every military action, we also shouldn't be so eager to prove we can be hawkish that we do something stupid. If Obama does end up using a sizable ground force, it shouldn't be because of public pressure from an ISIS PR campaign, it should be because it is absolutely necessary.