Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is a powerful and important figure in Washington, D.C. She may not officially hold the title of “leader” in the either Congressional chamber, but she as much as any one shapes Democrat Party policy. Yesterday on NBC’s flagship Sunday show, Meet the Press, she quietly blasted President Obama’s ISIS policy (or lack thereof).
I say quietly because she started out carefully and couched her opinion of the President as “too cautious” instead of impotent, weak, lazy or unsure of himself. But don’t mistake what is happening here as support for President Obama – this is nothing of the sort. What we are witnessing here is the disciplining of a weak President by the people who really steer Democrat policy.
Andrea Mitchell: “They have been on the march for months, if not years, so why does the President still say ‘we don’t have a strategy yet.’ Doesn’t that project weakness?”
Dianne Feinstein: “I know what you want me to say. I’m not going to say it in that sense. I think I’ve learned one thing about this president, and that is he’s very cautious. Maybe in this instance, too cautious. I know that the military, I know that the state department, I know that others have been putting plans together, and so hopefully, those plans will coalesce into a strategy that can encourage that coalition from Arab nations… There is good reason for people to come together now and begin to approach this as a very real threat that it in fact is.”
Andrea Mitchell: “The President back in January told the New Yorker Magazine David Remnick, that ISIS is the JV team. That is clearly wrong.”
Dianne Feinstein: “I think it’s wrong too. I think it’s a major Varsity team… I’ve seen nothing that compares with its viciousness. I’ve been on the Intelligence Committee now since before 9-11 and I’ve watched this evolution of non-state actors into world terror very carefully and closely. This is really the group that has the wherewithal in terms of financing, the fighting machine in terms of a structure, the heavy equipment, heavy explosives, the ability to move quickly – I mean they crossed the border into Iraq before we even knew what happened. This is a group of people who are extraordinarily dangerous and they’ll kill with abandon.”
This stab-in-the-back from a major Democrat politician is a very big deal. It comes on the heels of President Obama’s admission that there is “no strategy” in place to deal with ISIS. Already, the White House has had to spin and dance in an effort to squirm out of that misstep…
In his remarks today, POTUS was explicit – as he has been in the past – about the comprehensive strategy we'll use to confront ISIL threat.
— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) August 28, 2014
Thankfully the media (and the rest of America and the world) isn’t buying the White House’s talking points. President Obama was clear in his message –
But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet. I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are. And I think that’s not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military, as well. We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard.
But there’s no point in me asking for action on the part of Congress before I know exactly what it is that is going to be required for us to get the job done.
Pretty clear, no?
Feinstein’s comments on the President’s “cautious” nature are more than they seem at first blush. She is not just giving her opinion on what is happening in Iraq and Syria – or just attempting to explain away the President’s reticence. This is a shot across the President’s bow. This is a not-so-veiled warning to the White House – the Democrat Party has decided that we need to look tough on ISIS and the White House better get on board.
Which begs the question, why does Feinstein think this warning is necessary? Has the Democrat leadership already tried to get the President to move ahead on ISIS and he’s not gone far enough yet? Or is she simply reminding the White House that Congressional Democrats are in charge now that Obama is a lame duck?
I’m not sure, but I do know that every Democrat not named Obama remembers that there is an election coming up in two months and the Democrats are already in trouble – the last thing they need is to look weak on terrorism. I suspect we’ll see more Democrats making their way in front of cameras to renounce ISIS and demand action against them in the coming days.