The President Still Doesn’t Have a Plan |

Last night, President Obama spoke from the Oval Office to double-down on his failing strategy to contain radical Islamic terrorism. And, once again, he refused to lay out a comprehensive plan to eliminate ISIS—despite the fact that the new defense law requires him to do so. As Speaker Ryan explained afterwards, “The enemy is adapting, and we must too. That’s why what we heard tonight was so disappointing: no new plan, just a half-hearted attempt to defend and distract from a failing policy.”

The headlines this morning tend to agree. Check out some of the latest reactions below:

Obama’s not-so-peppy pep talk
“President Barack Obama wanted to show he was so serious about the threat posed by ISIL that he gave a speech from the Oval Office about it—standing up. But afterwards, America knows just about as much what he's doing and what's going on as it did before he scrambled Sunday's prime time schedule with the ultimate presidential prop. From the spot where George W. Bush spoke the night of Sept. 11, Richard Nixon resigned and John F. Kennedy talked civil rights and the Cuban Missile Crisis (all seated, behind where he stood), Obama looked firmly into the camera and gave America a not-so-peppy pep talk.” (Politico)

Obama tries to ease anxiety over terror attacks with Oval Office address
“Obama’s address amounted to a reassertion of his counterterrorism strategy with the public, more than a year since the Islamic State seized control of large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. The president, who in 2014 referred to the organization as a junior-varsity squad, has been accused of underestimating the group; the attacks in France and the United States have ramped up pressure on the administration to clarify its strategy.” (Chicago Tribune)

Obama seeks to calm Americans on terror threat, but speech underscores challenges
“He described [ISIS] as ‘thugs and killers, part of a cult of death.' He urged Muslims 'to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology.’ But he didn't assign new resources to address that challenge. He instead offered a defense of his current strategy, suggested modest adjustments to existing programs and called on Congress to pass laws it is unlikely to approve.” (LA Times)

Obama in speech to nation vows to defeat ‘new phase’ of terrorist threat
“President Barack Obama on Sunday laid out the most sweeping defense yet of his strategy to defeat Islamic State, but he offered no U.S. policy shift to confront what he called a 'new phase' in the terrorist threat after a mass shooting in California.” (Reuters)

Terrorist threat has ‘evolved’ into new phase, Obama says
“Mr. Obama didn’t announce an overhaul of his counterterrorism strategy or any sweeping changes in the U.S.-led military campaign in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State.” (Wall Street Journal)

Obama: ‘Terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase’
“Concerns about the terror network's global reach have fueled fierce criticism of the Obama administration's year-old military campaign to drive ISIS fighters from their strongholds in Iraq and Syria.” (The Hill)

Obama: ‘This was an act of terrorism’
“But the speech – intended to reassure a nervous nation – didn't announce an overhaul of a policy that critics have branded insufficient to take on the evolving threat.” (CNN)

Obama’s Oval Office address reflects struggle to be heard
“His decision to speak on the terrorist threat from the Oval Office, just days after the deadly attack in San Bernardino, Calif., reflects a broad concern in the White House that the American people, distracted by the overheated cacophony of the campaign season, are not listening to him. Or at least they are not hearing what he has to say.” (Washington Post)

How Obama thinks about terrorism
“At the core of Barack Obama’s terrorism speech on Sunday night lay a contradiction. He gave the address to convince an increasingly fearful nation that he takes the terrorist threat seriously. But he doesn’t, at least not in the way his political opponents do.” (The Atlantic)

Obama’s speech on terrorist threat is a plea for patience and national unity
“But in the past few weeks, the argument that Mr. Obama has moved too incrementally has come from some of his closest former counterterrorism advisers. Michael G. Vickers, who ran counterterrorism operations at the Pentagon until April this year, wrote in Politico just before Thanksgiving that ‘by any measure, our strategy in Iraq and Syria is not succeeding, or is not succeeding fast enough.’” (New York Times)