One day before the 74th anniversary of the attacks at Pearl Harbor, President Barack Obama stood in the Oval Office to tell the American people how a new breed of terrorism will be overcome.
But on the eve of the “date that will live in infamy” Obama didn’t muster words like those of Franklin Roosevelt, “the American people, through their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.”
Instead, he sounded a lot more like an author finishing another chapter in his novel, “Diary of a Wimpy President.”
Obama’s style and demeanor are not ideal for responses to terrorism. That is why the Republican primary field is what it is this year.
The food is always better at a steakhouse, but it is harder to find a seat at a Hooters. Most people aren’t very refined or nuanced in their tastes or their opinions.
The lowest common denominator is a good place to start if you want to be a candidate like Donald Trump. His supporters like to keep it simple.
You don’t like illegal immigrants; spend billions of dollars to deport them. You think they might come back; build a wall and spend billions of dollars a year to post guards all along it. If terrorists attack, threaten to spend billions of dollars to “bomb the $&%# out of ISIS” and then say America has to “take out the families of ISIS members too.” Trump doesn’t specify what that means. He will leave that to his supporters’ imaginations. If all else fails, ban all Muslims from entering the country.
President Barack Obama is more of a professor than a professional wrestling promoter. Because of that, he went on television Dec. 6 to say we will beat ISIS by being tough and smart.
“What we must do is make it harder for them to kill,” Obama said as he asked for people on the “no-fly list” to be prevented from buying guns. That is somewhat thoughtful and anything but knee-jerk. But I don’t know how comforting it is to say, “It will be a little harder for terrorists to kill you.”
People want a little more than that.
Most Americans don’t want thoughtful and cautious. They want a commander in chief to talk tough and blow things up.
They want George W. Bush with a bullhorn atop the rubble of the World Trade Center. Soon enough, they will wish that he were smart enough to attack the right countries in the right way and not waste trillions of dollars following through with rhetoric that should have been left empty.
But now, a significant number of Republicans is infatuated with Trump because he voices the anger that they feel. He says he has the strength to do for them what they can’t do for themselves.
Trump has become the spark that set fire to the incendiary culture the Republicans have created since Obama was first elected. The GOP has cried wolf at every Obama action for seven years and now that a real wolf is attacking their party, there is no one to save them from him.
Ted Cruz is also tapping into that sentiment and he has rocketed to a lead in some polls in Iowa. Cruz said last week that his plan for ridding the world of terrorism includes carpet-bombing ISIS. It is like he believes ISIS is a place. One would believe that a Senator would know that ISIS occupies areas where any attack against them carries a high civilian toll, as well. Enjoy those photos of women and children blown to bits by carpet bombing missions.
But Cruz supporters cheer, not because it makes sense, but because it sounds tough. And when you are mad about what happened in Paris and San Bernadino, California, you want someone to be tough.
The difference in rhetoric has everything to do with position. Obama will never seek office again so he can speak with honesty and propriety. He is also the leader of the free world and if he says we need troops somewhere, they go.
Obama is the head coach of a football team on the sidelines calling the plays and the 2016 hopefuls from both parties are merely the fans sitting at home in front of televisions shouting in hindsight and without repercussion what they think should have happened.
The tone from both sides will change when one Republican and one Democrat stand facing each other in a debate where someone actually has a shot to be the next person with their finger on the big red button.

Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at kent.bush@news-star.com.